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Neil Clark: 'Frustration can propel Exeter Chiefs to win'

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: January 03, 2013

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Exeter Chiefs

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EXETER Chiefs will use the frustration of the last two games to fire them to victory against Northampton this weekend, according to Neil Clark.

An 18-16 loss at Gloucester was followed by Saturday's 12-12 draw at home against Bath, which has seen the Chiefs drop to seventh place in the Aviva Premiership.

The Saints are one place above Saturday's hosts and Clark says it is important Exeter beat Jim Mallinder's side to keep up their challenge for a decent finish this term.

"We put pressure on ourselves because we want to be doing well," said Clark.

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"We're very happy that no one's beaten us at home, we're still holding on to that undefeated record at home and we want to protect that.

"If we're honest and we want to prove how ambitious we can be, we need to be beating Northampton at the weekend.

"We've beaten Saracens at home and Quins at home, we've beaten some of the top sides. There's no reason why we cannot put in another good performance and come away with a victory.

"I'm not saying we're going to give Northampton a kicking because they're a class side and they're in the top half of the table for a reason.

"With the way we're trying to compete and the way we're trying to challenge ourselves as a group, that frustration from the last couple of weeks is hopefully going to tell this weekend.

"We'll put a bit of pressure on ourselves to put in a performance that the supporters are proud of and that we can be proud of."

Clark could come into the starting line-up this weekend as fellow hooker Simon Alcott picked up a bang against Bath that forced him off at half-time.

That saw the 31-year-old get 40 minutes in only his eighth appearance of the season, after a shoulder injury ruled him out until October.

With Chris Whitehead, who started the season as first choice, not likely to play again until March after undergoing a neck operation, Clark could get a bit of time on the pitch over the coming weeks.

He said: "Chrissy and Si started off the season when I was out with a shoulder injury and they took their opportunity.

"The shoe's been on the other foot in the past when I've been playing and either Chrissy or Si has been injured and you just have to sit back.

"I think I've been pretty patient, the other guys have gone well but they've picked up knocks and that's part and parcel of the game.

"I'm pretty happy to have got a bit of game time recently and it's down to the coaches whether I start this weekend, but I'd like to think I warrant a go based on the performances I've put in."

Clark helped Exeter record a draw in the Premiership last Saturday but felt it could have been a win if they had made the most of their control in the second half.

"If we're honest with ourselves it was the one that got away," Clark said.

"A couple of plays went against us and a couple of penalties put us in a bad situation because we were on control of the game for most of the second half.

"There was a frustration because we felt we were a little bit on the back foot in the first half and then we went out in the second half and managed to turn it around.

"It was unfortunate to concede that try which put them in contention of even winning the game.

"We got two points, they're a good side and it's an improvement. Rob (Baxter) always talks about us getting better and if you look at it we actually have, that's our best result against them."

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