The Warriors had lost their first Champions Cup pool game at La Rochelle six days earlier when they matched the French side for much of the game but let their concentration lapse at crucial points. Against the 2020 European champions, however, they were physical and committed throughout, and their reward was a result which takes them up to fourth place in Pool A. Four teams below them have a game in hand, but, with eight sides going through to the last 16, another win in their remaining two games should be enough for Danny Wilson’s side.
“I think we were just playing the game in 20-minute blocks,” centre Sione Tuipulotu said when asked what had been the key to victory. “Over the last couple of weeks and especially in the La Rochelle game we dropped off a bit in the last 20 minutes of the halves. It was a massive emphasis for this game that if we did that again then we would lose.
“We spoke about it during the week that Exeter are a top-quality team and if we dropped off at the back end of the half then we would lose. We showed on Saturday night that we can go the whole 80.”
Stand-off Ross Thompson’s relentless place-kicking had his side 12-0 up with four penalties before, with ten minutes left, the Chiefs finally managed to barge their way over the line. Sam Simmonds’ try, converted by his brother Joe, briefly threatened to spark a revival by the away team, but within a couple of minutes a fifth penalty by Thompson made it 15-7. Johnny Matthews added a try in the last minute, converted by Duncan Weir, but Tuipulotu was in no doubt that Thompson’s contribution had been the crucial one.
“I think his kicking was unreal tonight,” the Scotland international added. “And so was his composure, for such a young kid and with a full crowd. On that last penalty I was watching him and thinking ‘I’m glad I don’t kick’.”
Having put in that powerful performance against Exeter just six days after an even more arduous battle against La Rochelle, the Warriors now have the relative luxury of a nine-day gap before their home game against Edinburgh a week today – the first of two-legs in the 1872 Cup that also doubles up as a URC match. Tuipulotu expects a hard game at home against the capital club, but knows there is a lot of self-belief in his squad after Saturday’s result.
“It’s all over social media, the rivalry between Edinburgh and Glasgow – and those are the games you want to be involved in. We have a pretty big four-game block – La Rochelle, Exeter and then back-to-back Edinburgh.
“I think it is going to have to be a massive squad effort. There are a few banged-up bodies. We are pretty confident that after a six-day turnaround after La Rochelle we can put up another good effort against Edinburgh.”