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Atkins: Exeter Chiefs’ attacking rugby will enable bounceback

Exeter Chiefs may have suffered a heavy defeat to Clermont Auvergne in Europe last time out but lock Ollie Atkins is adamant their expansive playing style will enable them to quickly bounce back.

Clermont produced an inspired display to cruise to a 42-10 victory over Chiefs in their Champions Cup Pool 2 clash at Stade Marcel Michelin on Sunday.

However, just eight days prior Exeter had put their French rivals to the sword in equally emphatic fashion at Sandy Park – winning 31-14 in what is arguably one of the most impressive results in the club’s history.

Things are hardly looking bleak in the West Country with Atkins and co currently lying second in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table and guaranteed to enter 2016 in the top four.

And with a home clash against Sale Sharks next on the docket on Boxing Day, the second-rower insists there is no danger of his team being downhearted for long.

“There are definitely positives to be taken because it’s an incredibly tough ask to be going over to Clermont, a French side and I don’t think a UK team has won there in seven years,” said Atkins.

“More important was the game down here – the boys put 31 points on a top-flight side which is fantastic to see.

“The way the boys play really expresses the Exeter Chiefs way. It’s about attacking rugby and going after tries – that entertains the people who watch and hopefully we can do that again against Sale.

“It’s a totally different gameplan to previous teams I have been at because we’re playing expansive, running rugby which really helps add little subtleties to your game.”

Atkins joined Exeter from Edinburgh during the summer and has been earmarked as an ideal replacement for departing lock, and fellow Australian, Dean Mumm.

Before his departure, former skipper Mumm gave a glowing endorsement of Atkins to head coach Rob Baxter and the new man may well have a chance to impress in the near future with second-rower Damian Welch suffering from a pec injury.

And despite his short spell at Sandy Park, the 27-year-old claims he already feels settled down in Devon.

“It’s a pretty easy place to settle in with a great bunch of blokes and a lovely part of the world,” added Atkins.

“I haven’t experienced anything like this before – hopefully I will make the most of my opportunity coming up and help the team.

“It’s a shame for Damo who has hurt his pec but hopefully I can make the most of my opportunity and help out.”

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