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Exeter Chiefs’ Gareth Steenson looking to kick on

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Delighted Gareth Steenson is looking to kick on – quite literally – after his 12-point haul against Newcastle Falcons saw him break Tony Yapp’s Exeter Chiefs league points-scoring record.

Six behind heading into Saturday’s tussle against their North East rivals, Irishman Steenson was again on song with his metronomic right boot as he helped kick Rob Baxter’s side to an 11th league win of the season in the Aviva Premiership.

That victory not only ensured the Chiefs remain second in the standings after Round 16 but, more importantly, it saw the prolific Dungannon-born marksman eclipse Yapp’s long-standing record of 1,526 points.

"I didn’t want to know about it in the lead up to the game, but it was in the papers this week about how many points I needed to break the record," said Steenson.

"Obviously I’m delighted to get it. It was a good record that Yappy has set and I thank him for his kind words he said during the week.

"Hopefully I can now put it to the back of my mind and get a few more points along the way."

Phil Dollman’s 53rd-minute try behind the posts at the North End left Steenson – who joined the Chiefs in 2008 from the Cornish Pirates – with the simplest of conversions to pass the milestone.

Post-match, he joked it was just the kick he would have craved, having thought ahead of kick-off how and when the decisive moment would ultimately come.

"I had practised during the week and in my session on Friday, I was definitely practising for the mental approach, because I was wondering what sort of kick it would be to get the record," explained Steenson.

"That shouldn’t be the way you think, but I’m human, and it was definitely in my thoughts, so I thank Phil for putting the ball down under the posts, because I couldn’t really miss that one!"

A memorable day for Steenson was made all the more sweet by the fact the Chiefs collected two late tries through Sam Hill and Elvis Taione to ensure they claimed maximum reward from a 32-17 victory.

"If we’re being honest, it wasn’t our best performance today," said the Ulsterman. "We have a couple of days off now to reflect and get ourselves ready for a big, physical challenge next Sunday against Northampton.

"We weren’t clinical in the first half, but we ultimately wore Newcastle down. We talked about the opportunity and that if we kept knocking them and kept going at them, that they would eventually blow up, and thankfully we reaped our rewards at the end and came away with a bonus point

"We are delighted to come away with the five points, but we know there is a lot we can work on."

Such is the unyielding nature of the Premiership this term that even the sides at the bottom end of the table – Newcastle and London Irish – have made the Chiefs work for victories in recent weeks.

"That’s the Premiership," said Steenson. "There are no simple games and you have to respect every side you play at this level. We weren’t going to break Newcastle down in the first 20 minutes, it was going to take the full game. Yes, we have got to expect to win these types of games – and win your home games – if we want to be a top-two side, but you have to respect everybody."

Next up for the Chiefs is Sunday’s visit of fourth-placed Northampton Saints, who themselves warmed up for this latest match with a home win over Sale Sharks at Franklin’s Gardens.

"It’s another big game," warned Steenson. "They are going well and they are one of the teams fighting to get themselves up into those play-off positions. For us, these are the sorts of fixtures we have got to start knocking off."
 

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