Jerry Sexton hopes he gets to experience the matchday buzz of Sandy Park again this season after he made his Aviva Premiership debut for the Exeter Chiefs in Saturday’s narrow loss to Gloucester.
The 21-year-old forward was used as a second half replacement by head coach Rob Baxter, replacing team-mate Mitch Lees who was forced out of the action due to injury.
Given his opportunity to shine, Sexton – the younger brother of Ireland and British Lions fly-half, Jonathan Sexton – did not disappoint, putting himself about the field in a committed display at a packed out Sandy Park.
His top flight debut, however. was tinged with a little disappointment as the visitors edged a thrilling contest 26-25.It meant a third successive league debut for the Devon club, who this weekend will be looking to rediscover their winning formula when they travel to London Irish on Sunday (3pm).
The young Irishman is hopeful of keeping his place within the Chiefs squad and the mood within the camp is that they are looking for an immediate response at the Madejski Stadium.
"We said straight away we weren’t going to sulk, but come back in to training with our heads held high and get a buzz going again," he said. "It’s a great place to train, we’re always happy and we want to bounce into Sunday.
"This was our first game in the second half of the season. We beat Gloucester up there so possibly this was just the tables turning, but now we’ve got London Irish on Sunday, so we need a big performance against them to get back to winning ways."
In a see-saw battle against the Cherry & Whites, the Chiefs battled back from a 9-0 deficit to lead 14-9 thanks to converted tries from Jack Nowell and Matt Jess. However, a converted Tom Savage try restored Gloucester's lead almost immediately.
The contest continued to ebb and flow as England internationals Ben Morgan and Thomas Waldrom traded tries apiece, yet the normally deadly Gareth Steenson was unable to add the extras to Waldrom's ninth try of the campaign, firing his conversion against the near post. Gloucester duly made the most of the let-off, clinically seeing out the remaining minutes to claim their first victory of 2015.
Post-match, Sexton admitted: "It was disappointing. It was one of those games where we had control of the game a lot, but we had a few mistakes exiting our own half after kick-offs.
"The buzz, though, was unbelievable. It was my first Premiership match so the adrenalin was going. It was a good first game to get into, but it was a bit loose. We wanted to play fast but sometimes you have to clear your lines first and then play, not play straight away."
Signed initially on a short-term deal last summer by Baxter, Sexton has been given until the end of the current campaign to try and earn himself a longer stay in the Westcountry.
"Hopefully I can stay here for a long time," he added. "I’m here until June and hopefully Rob (Baxter) can see enough until then to keep me on because I really love it here."
With a heap of Premiership and Cup games on the horizon, Sexton will have plenty of opportunity to prove his worth to the Chiefs coaching team.