Once roared on by the notorious Gloucester ‘Shed’ this weekend Exeter Chiefs scrum-half Haydn Thomas will return to Kingsholm aiming to inflict misery on his former club for the second time this season.
The 28-year-old half-back, who spent two seasons with the Cherry & Whites after joining in 2005 from Exeter, is back on familiar soil as the Chiefs look to claim their first-ever Aviva Premiership double. Thomas was part of the Chiefs line-up which made a stunning start to life in the top flight when they defeated Bryan Redpath’s side 22-10 on the opening day of the season at Sandy Park.
Several months on, however, Thomas expects a stern examination from Saturday’s hosts, who come into the game seeking not only revenge for that earlier Exeter defeat, but also recent defeats against Leeds [in the Premiership] and La Rochelle, whose 24-18 victory in the Amlin Challenge Cup three weeks ago ended the club’s 13-month unbeaten run at home.
Thomas said: “They’ll obviously want to get revenge for the first game of the season and the fact they lost away to Leeds in their last league game means they’ll be fuming. I imagine a big backlash is planned, but we’ll certainly take that head on. “If you look at their home record and it’s clearly a very tough place to go and win. They lift their game more at home and are a different side at home than when they travel away.
“We’re prepared to go up there and we’re confident that if we can exert ourselves we can get a good result. I think we thrive on the atmosphere at away games and big challenges and this is another one.”
Thomas added of his return: “It’s pretty exciting, I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a great rugby ground, a great atmosphere and a great challenge for us as a club.”
Exeter, who sit eighth in the current Premiership standings, head into the match on the back of a 22-15 loss at home against Leicester Tigers and Thomas said the players have worked hard in training this week to improve their game. “We were very frustrated after the game, we gave them three easy tries from uncharacteristic defensive errors,” he said. “We weren’t clinical with a couple of efforts ourselves and when we looked back on it we were disappointed we didn’t get more than a losing bonus point. We’re always looking as a club to push on and hopefully this weekend we can push on and make amends for last weekend.”