Exeter Chiefs’ two-try hero Thomas Waldrom stressed the importance of being mentally switched on for every game after a last-gasp victory over bottom side Bristol.
Waldrom claimed his second try of the match, and his ninth in the Premiership this season, three minutes from time to snatch Exeter a win that guaranteed them a play-off spot.
Exeter remain unbeaten in the league since October, but this was the second successive home match during which they made very hard work of seeing off a team they would expect to beat quite comfortably, given their league positions, having edged past Sale Sharks 30-25 a fortnight before.
They will have to play a lot better if they are to get anything from their Good Friday trip to Harlequins and hang on to second place in the table.
“It was a very tough game,” admitted Waldrom. “It was nice weather to throw the ball around, but we have got to be a lot more accurate than we were. There are no easy weeks in the Premiership, and you have got to get up mentally for it week in and week out.”
“The last two games haven’t gone to plan, but we have dug deep and shown some resilience and ground out some wins, which is nice, but you don’t want to be in those positions all the time.
“At this time of the season you want to have your destiny in your own hands, you don’t want to be relying on other teams beating each other. It is all about us and what we can control, and it is a nice place to be in, but it could have been very different if we had tripped up today.”
Exeter head coach Rob Baxter reiterated that message, saying: “This sounds awful, and I am not comfortable with it, but whether the last two home games have been enough of an exciting challenge to really get the guys focused, I don’t know.
“Having not played that well and knowing our backs are against the wall a little bit, going to Quins on a Friday night might be something that really does focus us very, very clearly mentally.
“We will go there knowing it will be a really massive test, and that if we are not at our best we are not going to win, and the whole challenge is slightly different.”
Bristol skipper Marc Jones praised the performance of centre Gavin Henson on his return from a toe injury, with the former Wales international scoring a try in his 19-point haul.
“It was great to see Gav back,” he said. “He looks very relaxed on the field and I think he gives confidence to other players with his ability to play.”