Geoff Parling praised his Exeter Chiefs team-mates for grinding out a “tough victory” against Newcastle Falcons at the weekend.
The England and British Lions international featured for the whole 80 minutes as Rob Baxter’s side moved up to second in the Aviva Premiership standings thanks to their 36-14 win at Sandy Park.
Keen to build on their success of the week previous at Worcester Warriors, the Chiefs again had to overcome a stuttering start to the match before producing a solid second half show that once again yielded maximum reward.
For Parling – himself a former Falcons player – the threat brought to Devon by Dean Richards’ side was something the Chiefs had identified ahead of kick-off, and it came as no real surprise that the in-form visitors took time to break down.
“It was a really good win, but a tough one at that,” said the 33-year-old lock. “They had a lot of territory and possession in that half. They really turned up, like we knew they would, and it took that first 15 minutes for us to get going.
“Thankfully, the second half was much because we started to grind them down and that was when we were able to get the tries.”
Winger James Short – fresh from his hat-trick the week previous at Sixways – again led the way for the Chiefs with another double, while there were also touchdowns for Harry Williams and Sam Skinner, along with a penalty try which was one of four scores converted by young fly-half Joe Simmonds.
Now the Chiefs will be looking to maintain their lofty Premiership position by chalking up another victory on Friday, this time against another of Parling’s former employers, Leicester Tigers.
Parling enjoyed six highly successful years with the East Midlanders and knows better than most the challenge facing visiting teams when they head to Welford Road.
Having won only once in the Premiership against the Tigers on their own turf – that was in the 2011/12 season (30-28) – Parling insists the Chiefs will have to be at their very best if they are to double that figure.
“It’s a huge game, second versus fourth,” he said. “It’s always tough going there, but our away form has been good in the Premiership this season and we’ll be looking to carry it on.”
Victory for the Chiefs this Friday would also ensure they complete a rare double over the Tigers, who were beaten 31-10 at Sandy Park when the two sides last met on Christmas Eve.
A similar return this week would further enhance the club’s claims for a place in the play-offs, now that there are just five rounds of the scheduled season remaining.
Baxter is hopeful a number of his walking wounded could well return to the fray having sat out the recent victories, but at the same time those who have stepped in to the fold – including youngsters such as the Simmonds brothers, Sam Skinner, Jack Maunder and Stuart Townsend – have not disappointed.
“The young guys have all done very well,” added Parling. “My message to them always is to go out there, don’t play with any fear and put your mark on the game. I think all of them have shown that in the last few games and hopefully it continues in the same vein going forward.”