The fans are back and the fight for top four
- Credit: Micah Crook/PPAUK
The long-awaited return of fans to Sandy Park played out on the weekend, and what a show the team put on.
With exceptional South-West sun shining on the pitch and 4,000 people in the crowd, you could not help but expect a five-point win for the Chiefs, especially as Newcastle sent down a ‘change up’ side.
What a privilege it was to see and speak to people at the game, and that familiar buzz and noise was there to almost touch. And they were not disappointed with the show on the pitch, the Chiefs running in 12 tries in total and some of the best tries of the round for sure. A brutal mix of power and skill put Newcastle to the sword with no let-up whatsoever.
The final score of 74 - 3 is a record-breaking total for the squad, tying the record for most points scored in a top-flight league game and setting a record for the biggest margin of victory, having beaten London Welsh 74 – 19 back in 2015.
As you can imagine, there were several standout performers on the day, and no one stood out more than Henry Slade. Someone who clearly has the physical skills and power to be at the top, but he really has impressed me with his mental strength to perform after a tough week in the press. Not only showing the crowd in attendance what he is about but hopefully further impressing the Lions’ selection team.
Luckily, I was able to chat with Rob Baxter after the game as part of his corporate duties, and his thoughts on the game and the coming month of rugby gave reassurance that the squad is in the right place to fight for the title again.
He spoke about how nice it was to have a game where he could relax ‘a little’ with 30 minutes left to play but I felt that the game was bittersweet for him, as I’m sure he would have preferred a tougher test from the Flacons on the day to keep the team on their toes and battle hardened for the games to come.
Home Semi-Final rugby for Rob and the team is something that is their only focus for now, with what looks likely to be back-to-back games vs Sale Sharks should things go the way of the Chiefs.
Again, Rob spoke about having their destiny in their own hands when it comes to league position and I’m sure the coaching staff won’t let the squad look too far past next Sunday, when they travel up to Franklins Gardens to take on the Saints.
Exciting times all round for Chiefs fans, as the squad seems to be shifting through the gears nicely and who knows how many more tries Simmo can get before the season is out?