Ian Whitten wants the ‘anger’ of Exeter Chiefs’ last-minute European Champions Cup loss to Wasps to carry them through when they face Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm on Friday night.
Irish centre Whitten started an all-Aviva Premiership Rugby European final against Dai Young’s side which proved to be one of the most thrilling club games in recent memory, Charles Piutau’s last-play score and Jimmy Gopperth’s clutch kick prevented Chiefs reaching a first ever Champions Cup semi-final.
Exeter sit three points behind league-leaders Saracens and two-points ahead of Wasps and Whitten hopes the immense disappointment of their European exit will fuel a powerful finish to their league campaign – starting with David Humphreys’ Gloucester.
And Whitten, who has scored three tries in 19 league games this term, thinks remembering their own devastation could actually help their hunt for a first ever Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-final.
“It is going to take another effort like Saturday (away against Gloucester) but if we keep playing like that we’ll come out the right side because we’ll learn the small things. The good thing is the way we play for each other and the pride we have in the shirt,” the twice-capped Ireland international said.
“Rob (Baxter) has talked about it though and we have to use the anger of it. At some point the disappointment has to turn to anger and that anger used the right way has to be good for us.
“I am massively proud of all the lads – I thought all of them pitched up massively and we gave everything for each other and the club.
“Sometimes that is all you can ask, even when you don’t get the result – you could see the effort was there and I was massively proud to have played with all of them on Saturday.”
Gloucester meanwhile suffered heartbreak of their own, the reigning European Challenge Cup champions had their tenure ended by Newport Gwent Dragons as the Welshmen summoned a stellar finish of their own – Charlie Davies barging through late on to upset the Kingsholm faithful.
The Cherry and Whites have suffered a slump in form since they claimed arguably their biggest win of the season against Wasps.
That marked their first win over Wasps since 2012 and was their fifth win in a row, but they have since lost four league matches on the spin and will be looking to avoid a fifth against a Chiefs side openly wounded by Young’s outfit at the Ricoh Arena.
Ben Morgan, who scored in the loss to Dragons, thinks Exeter present the perfect opportunity to right the ship and make a statement with just three matches left in the Aviva Premiership Rugby regular season.
The English international thinks Gloucester, who are nine points shy of the European Champions Cup spots, can still salvage their season.
"It was pretty awful conditions that day but they were up for it as normal and is exactly what we will expect from them – they will be very physical and move the ball well- and it is exactly the sort of challenge we need to climb back into Premiership rugby," he said.
"It's a big challenge, for sure. Obviously we have had a few games against Exeter which normally end up being pretty high scoring and the closest in my mind was when we lost to them down at their place.
“Obviously it has been a tough time with a few losses on the bounce, but it is very much about us trying to pull together now. There is still very much things to play for.”
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Kingsholm, 7.45pm – Live on BT Sport
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (17th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Robin Goodliffe & Roger Baileff. TMO: Trevor Fisher.