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Greg Holmes targets home semi-final with Exeter Chiefs

Sandy Park

Greg Holmes believes Exeter Chiefs will have to continue to ‘dig deep’ in their quest to secure a home semi-final in this season’s Aviva Premiership.

With just two rounds of the scheduled season remaining, Rob Baxter’s side maintained their lofty top two placing with last Friday’s 39-26 win over Harlequins.

However, the Australian tight-head insists the job is far from finished for him and his team-mates – and that two equally big displays will be needed against Northampton Saints (April 29) and Gloucester (May 6) to ensure they have home advantage in the last four.

“Friday was a big win for us,” said Holmes. “It was a real tough game and for the first 50, 60 minutes, it was a real grind out there. However, we pride ourselves on our fitness and the speed of the game we play and in end it worked in helping to wear them down.

“At times we had to really dig deep, but we reaped our rewards in the end. As I said, it was a big win and it means we still have our fate in our own hands, which is what you want entering into these last few weeks.”

Brought to the club last summer by Baxter from the Queensland Reds, Holmes has quickly settled to life on the other side of the world, featuring regularly for the Chiefs in both the Premiership and Cup competitions.

His transition, though, has been helped by the heavy influence of fellow Aussies within the Chiefs squad and it was one of them, Lachie Turner, who helped to pave the way for Exeter’s latest top flight success.

Recalled to the starting line-up for the injured Phil Dollman, Turner helped himself to a try double alongside further scores from Dave Ewers, Michele Campagnaro and Henry Slade.

“Lachie was sensational and like the Lachie of old, he took his tries really well,” added Holmes. “The team as a whole, though, were fantastic. We knew we would have to be at our best to beat Quins, just because they don’t tend to lose too many at home.

“It was a great performance from the guys and certainly an improvement on recent weeks. We hadn’t been quite at our best in those games, but at the same time you can’t take anything away from the teams we played.

“The key thing is that we went to Harlequins, we dug deep in those early stages, and then came through strongly in that second half. It was a big win for us.”

Next up for the Chiefs is their home encounter against Northampton Saints on Saturday, April 29 (3pm) – and it’s a fixture the experienced Holmes says will again provide a decent test for the Devonians.

“At this stage of the season, every game you play in is going to be tough,” he said. “They’ve still got plenty to play for like ourselves, so it’s going to be another battle and one we have to be ready for.”

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