Townsend keen to kick on

Fri, 09 Jun 2017 15:21
Large stuart townsend 800

NEWS: Stuart Townsend admits he is still coming to terms with being crowned a Premiership champion with club side Exeter Chiefs.

Having kicked off last season on the bench for loan club Cornish Pirates at Bedford’s Goldington Road, the talented scrumhalf ended it by lifting English rugby’s top prize in front of a packed Twickenham crowd.

The 21-year-old was very much part and parcel of the all-conquering Chiefs outfit, who saw off rivals Wasps 23-20 in a pulsating final that went to extra time for only the second time in the competition’s history.

It capped a remarkable rise to the top for Townsend, who having been recalled to Sandy Park midway through the season following injuries to Will Chudley and Dave Lewis, took the opportunity to shine on the biggest of stages.

"It’s pretty surreal and I don’t even think now it’s probably sunk in that we’re Premiership champions," said Townsend. "Seven years ago we were only just coming into the Premiership, but here we are as champions, it’s unreal really.”

Teaming up alongside experienced flyhalf Gareth Steenson, the duo provided the vital link between Exeter’s renowned pack of forwards and their exciting back division to cut loose.

"This season has been massive for me," added the former England Under-20 international. "Obviously I started it down at the Pirates, getting game time for them, when all of a sudden I was called back to the club when a couple of the boys went down injured.

"Initially I got a few benches, coming on in both Europe and the Premiership, and then I got a couple of starts. It was then that I thought ‘I’m loving this’ and that I wanted more. I really started to knuckle down, working hard in training – with Ricky Pellow especially – and thankfully I got more opportunities as the season went on. To get the start in the final was like a dream come true,"

On the lush green grass of Twickenham, Townsend did not disappoint as he helped the Chiefs to establish a half time lead, thanks in the main to tries from Jack Nowell and Phil Dollman.

Although Wasps countered in the second period, the Chiefs refused to throw in the towel and levelled things up just before full-time thanks to a penalty from the trusty boot of Steenson.

With little to choose between either side, it was in extra time that Devon’s finest started to flex their muscles. Sam Simmonds saw a potential try chalked off by the TV match official, before Steenson delivered a telling blow with just minutes remaining to seal victory for the Chiefs.

"I didn’t play in the final the previous year, but this year the mood was a lot different,” explained Townsend. “Whereas perhaps last season we were happy to get to the final, this time we knew we could be champions and could contest for the trophy.  You could see in the final, especially in extra time, all the boys dug deep. As a group, we showed everything and come the end we came out as champions!"

But having tasted success at the very top end, Townsend and his Exeter teammates are desperate to ensure the sparkle remains within camp and that next season does not run out of fizz.

"The challenge now is to back this season up," said Townsend. "When we come back in for pre-season, we’ve got to be talking about not only backing this season up, but looking to improve and go even better next season.

"It’s a big challenge for us, we know that, but as a club we thrive on things like that. The key is to build on what we’ve achieved this season and look to take it to the next level. Europe, you have to say, has to be one of those things we look to improve on,"

There are currently no matches being played
Sat, 24 March 2018
Kings v Treviso 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Saracens v Harlequins 15h00 London
London Irish v Gloucester 15h00 Madejski Stadium
Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors 15h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Stormers v Reds 15h15 Newlands
Cardiff Blues v Ulster 15h15 Cardiff Arms Park
Munster v Scarlets 17h30 Thomond Park
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints 17h30 Kingston Park
Ospreys v Leinster 19h35 Liberty Stadium
Jaguares v Lions 19h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sun, 25 March 2018
Leicester Tigers v Wasps 15h00 Welford Road
Fri, 30 March 2018
Chiefs v Highlanders 06h35 Hamilton
Rebels v Hurricanes 08h45 Melbourne
Scarlets v La Rochelle 17h30 Parc y Scarlets
Sat, 31 March 2018
Blues v Sharks 06h35 Eden Park
Sat, 24 March 2018
Hurricanes v Highlanders 29 | 12
Sunwolves v Chiefs 10 | 61
Fri, 23 March 2018
Bath v Exeter Chiefs 18 | 20
Dragons v Cheetahs 17 | 29
Glasgow Warriors v Zebre 68 | 7
Connacht v Edinburgh 22 | 29
Rebels v Sharks 46 | 14
Crusaders v Bulls 34 | 14
Mon, 19 March 2018
CUT-Ixias v UCT-Ikeys 23 | 30
Wits v NWU-Pukke 31 | 35
Shimlas v NMMU-Madibaz 28 | 22
UP-Tuks v UJ 30 | 30
Sun, 18 March 2018
Waratahs v Rebels 51 | 27
Sat, 17 March 2018
Jaguares v Reds 7 | 18
Wales v France 14 | 13
Team P W D L Pts
Exeter Chiefs 18 13 0 5 65
Wasps 17 11 1 5 54
Saracens 17 11 0 6 53
Newcastle Falcons 17 11 0 6 50
Leicester Tigers 17 10 0 7 47
Bath 18 9 0 9 46
Gloucester 17 9 1 7 46
Sale Sharks 17 8 0 9 43
Harlequins 17 7 0 10 36
Northampton Saints 17 6 0 11 31
Worcester Warriors 17 5 0 12 27
London Irish 17 2 0 15 15