Gareth Steenson insists he and his Exeter Chiefs team-mates will pick themselves up despite suffering yet more late heartache during Sunday’s Aviva Premiership clash with rivals Bath.
Semesa Rokoduguni’s converted try – seven minutes into added on time – saw the Chiefs undone right at the death, eventually going down 13-10 in front of a capacity crowd at Sandy Park.
Not for the first time this season, Rob Baxter’s side were again left to wallow in yet another narrow reverse that has left them seventh in the current Premiership standings.
However, skipper Steenson says it’s imperative the Chiefs regroup quickly and get themselves back firing on all cylinders as they prepare to kick-off their Anglo-Welsh Cup exploits this weekend away to Harlequins.
“We have to pick ourselves up,” said the Irishman post-match. “We’re only talking minutes after the game, so right now it’s a big disappointment. That said, the euphoria we would have felt had we held them out at the end would have been so different.
“Right now we have to take the lessons and the learns of today which, if we do, I know we will be in a better state moving forward.”
In what was a bruising encounter between the two Westcountry rivals, the Chiefs could not have done much more in their quest for the four vital league points – and Steenson said the loss was even harder to take than that of the previous week, where his Ulster homecoming was again undone in th dying embers of the match.
“If I’m being honest, today is far worse,” said the 32-year-old playmaker. “We worked incredibly hard to get ourselves in that good position at the end. We continually knocked them back, but then we got a bit comfortable and went off the boil a bit and that’s when they hit us.
“For long spells there we felt we were knocking them back, but that’s when you have to increase your intensity even more, so it’s very disappointing to come out on the wrong side like we did.
“Games between ourselves and Bath are always tight, but I think when we look back at things next week we’ll see we gave away a couple of crucial penalties in key areas that allowed them to get good field position, good possession and just gave momentum back to them.
“As I said, I thought we were going well and we were defending well, but then one slip at the end and they get the all-important score.”
With the Premiership now taking an enforced two-week break for the opening block of the Anglo-Welsh Cup, Steenson acknowledges the Chiefs must use the time between now and their next fixture at Newcastle Falcons on November 18 as the perfect opportunity to get their league campaign back on track.
“It is going to be a test of character, it always is in the Premiership,” he continued. “The last few weeks have been tough for all of us, but if it’s taught us anything it’s that the intensity levels have to be up there.
“Today it was there and defensively we were very good for long periods of that game. Certainly there are positives to take from it all – one of which it was a much improved performance than last time we played here against Clermont.
“If you look at the two performances, we are a better side two weeks down the line than we were that day – and if we hold them out at the end, we all would have been singing the praises of what would have been a very good performance. Either way there is not too much difference because we still would have done a lot of the same things. It’s just a couple of things at the end and they score in the corner.”