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Chris Bentley: Chiefs' win wasn't the prettiest but it was great for our future

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: November 22, 2012

Exeter Chiefs

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THIS being a column in the section for the fans of the odd-shaped ball, I find it rather peculiar to open with a quote more befitting the football section.

However, for the uninitiated, the words of Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway are most certainly apt when I think back to the LV= Cup game on Saturday.

"To put it in gentleman's terms, if you've been for a night out and you're looking for a young lady and you pull one, some weeks they're good-looking and some weeks they're not the best. Our performance today would have been not the best-looking bird but at least we got her in the taxi. She weren't the best looking lady we ended up taking home but she was very pleasant and very nice, so thanks very much, let's have a coffee."

Indeed, the match on Saturday didn't provide the same spectacle that we were treated to in Oxford the week before. The bonus-point try was never really on the horizon and it was something of a stop-start affair.

However, I for one thought that it was a great game with regards the future of the club and I'll tell you why...

It's all well and good watching the guys play when things are going fine – tackles being broken, offloads going to hand and the opposition just slightly off the pace – but the real challenge comes when things don't go so well.

On Saturday that's exactly what happened. For whatever reason, the killer pass didn't connect, the challenges all stuck and the opposition didn't lie down.

Tommy Hayes is a huge advocate of learning from experience and no amount of training or blackboard sessions could have compensated for what the younger squad members will have learnt in front of 7,800 people on Saturday afternoon.

Additionally for the senior boys in the team, the game allowed them to show that when sleeves need rolling up and a game just needs winning, they too have got what it takes.

Make no mistake, the Ospreys are the reigning RaboDirect champions for good reason. With 64-cap Welsh hero Ian Gough bolstering their forward pack, the team that took to Sandy Park were here looking to win and they didn't disappoint.

Probably still reeling from their national side's loss to Samoa the night before, the lads from the Principality showed that they had come to make things extremely difficult for the Chiefs.

However, tries from Myles Dorrian and the most prolific try scorer at the club – with two senior tries in two senior appearances – Will Carrick-Smith ensured that the day would belong to the men in pink.

I have to admit that I was especially proud for big Will. When he arrived at the beginning of last season he literally couldn't chew gum and run so to see him line up against a 50-cap international and come out on top was fantastic, his development has been almost as massive as his 6ft 11ins frame!

The coaching staff must be rubbing their hands in delight at the task ahead of them this week.

With the younger squad members all fronting up and the senior guys, previously lacking pitch time, all doing so well, I should imagine that the selection meetings before this week's fixture with London Irish will be going on for quite some time.

I think that in light of this fact we should let that man Ian Holloway provide another quote to epitomise where the Chiefs are at the moment.

"I call us the orange club – because our future's bright."

With regards bright futures, it's great to see Chris Whitehead and Luke Cowan-Dickie being joined by Phil Dollman, Will Chudley and Carl Rimmer in signing contract extensions with the club.

Chudders has fast established himself as one of the characters within the squad and it's pleasing to see that his early-season form has been rewarded, while Carl gives us our entire front-row signed up for the next couple of seasons.

Of the other two boys who signed last week, Luke has shown up very well for such a young player in one of the most arduous positions and Chris has also come on leaps and bounds and is beginning to get mentions about further honours after some barnstorming performances already this term.

It's always pleasing for guys to get the nitty gritty of contracts out the way to focus on rugby, and I would like to take this opportunity to say well done to the five of them.

Finally, I think myself and my boss John Wood may owe something of an apology to the faithful for our performance on Saturday.

Our usual matchday MC Tim Arnold cried off on the morning of the game and at 8am, as I was feeding baby Bea, the call came in. "Bentos, it's John. If I do pre-game, will you be okay to take on the half-time bits?" Still being half asleep, I agreed.

By the time I got to the club, my usual matchday activities all suddenly seemed insignificant when faced with the prospect of being live on the big screens, on the pitch and in front of a very healthy Sandy Park crowd. I'm not usually an anxious man but this prospect was certainly providing the jitters!

I always used to feel the nerves before a game but at those times there were 14 of my mates there to stiffen the sinews and ensure I got through it.

On Saturday, walking onto the pitch, mic in hand, I have to admit I was petrified and, although I think the presentation went okay, it is not something I will be looking to repeat in the near future. I now have a new-found respect for all those who do matchday announcements!

Until the next time, stay safe and enjoy your rugby.

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