Exeter Chiefs are flying high in this season’s Gallagher Premiership – and captain Jack Yeandle has revealed the key to their success: hurt. 

Beaten finalists last season, Chiefs are sitting pretty atop Gallagher Premiership Rugby this time around, holding a nine-point lead over nearest challengers Saracens. 

With a home semi-final at Sandy Park already secured, Rob Baxter’s men sent out another message to their title rivals in beating Leicester Tigers 52-20 at Welford Road last weekend.

And while they lost out to Wasps in their first Sandy Park defeat for a year, Yeandle believes the pain from last season’s final defeat against Saracens is spurring their title challenge on.

“It’s been a good season, we’re certainly looking to keep the momentum going and build and build,” said Yeandle, who was speaking at a Gallagher 'Train with your Heroes' session at Crediton RFC after their ladies side won a nationwide competition launched by title partner and community insurance broker Gallagher.

“It’s obvious what we want and we’re starting to show what we’re all about. The good thing is there are still things we can develop in our performances.

“The biggest driver is that we’ve tasted success and know what it takes and feels like. We know how hard we have to work.

“That’s the ultimate driver, together with the fact there’s a bit of hurt from last year - but it’s making sure we get it right now and each week we’re building so that something special can come at the end of it.”

With a finely-tuned pack dominating up front and the likes of England internationals Henry Slade and Jack Nowell sizzling in the backs, Chiefs have looked at their potent best in recent weeks. 

That was evidenced in full by the seven-try win at Welford Road last weekend, which saw Rob Baxter’s men inflict the heaviest home defeat in Leicester’s history. 

Far from satisfied, Yeandle, though, still sees ways in which his side can improve, with a home loss to Wasps set to sting for the rest of the season.

“Looking at the Leicester game., yes we went out there and got a big win but we’ve come away thinking some of the scores we conceded and breaks we gave away aren’t what we normally do,” he added.

“They were a bit off-par from us, and ultimately, they were down to 14 men. We could have had an even bigger scoreline.

“We’ve got a core group, a leadership group, making sure that we drive standards. We put a lot of onus on our own performances, and as soon as training starts making sure that switch is flicked, that there’s no sloppiness.”
For all their success so far this campaign, Exeter’s biggest test of the season arguably still awaits. 

Beaten 27-10 in last year’s final by Saracens, the spectre of a potential rematch at Twickenham lingers on the horizon.

And Yeandle sees parallels between the two frontrunners.

“They’re (Saracens) a club that has been on the top of their game for six or seven years now,” he said. 

“A little bit like ourselves, they push themselves on the simple things, working hard and flat out. Sometimes it’s not about doing the flash things, they defend really well."

  • Jack Yeandle was speaking at a Gallagher ‘Train with your Heroes’ session at Crediton RFC after their ladies side won a nationwide competition launched by Gallagher, a passionate community insurance broker and proud title partner of Premiership Rugby.