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Clive Stuart-Smith column

Exeter Chiefs scrum-half and BBC Devon columnist

Clive Stuart Smith (Pic: Sports Action Photos)
Next weekend we will play Plymouth Albion and it is going to be a very physical encounter. Local derbies always seem to have that little bit more bite to it. Not long ago they beat a very decent Nottingham side so we know that we will have to raise our game and be at our very best

When you play away you have to familiarise yourself pretty quickly with your surroundings.

The kickers want to get out nice and early to have a feel for the pitch and the wind. The back three are normally looking for the closest mirror and checking that their hair is suitable. The front row are usually discussing whether or not they could get away with a cheeky snack from the burger van at half-time.

Heading up to Sedgley Park we were expecting severe rainfall and a very muddy pitch but we were pleasantly surprised with both the weather and the pitch.

Coming back into the changing room after our warm-up, everyone noticed something was different. After much deliberation it was decided it was the distinct scent of "slightly burnt" cheese toasties. Someone had opened the window which allowed the aroma to drift in from the nearby café.

The guilty culprit did not own up but when we found Saul Nelson dangling out of the window after the game and the evidence was there for all to see.

He was adamant that he jumped up to close it, took a little slip and a "slightly burnt" half eaten cheese toastie just happened to be the only thing preventing his fall. He was purely using the tomato ketchup bottle to rebalance himself. Case closed.

Saul Nelson
Saul Nelson - the guilty man in Exeter Chiefs' "toastie-gate" affair

We scored two tries very early on but then unfortunately our discipline let us down. Losing a few players to the sin-bin effected our rhythm and it took us a while to regain it.

After securing the bonus point the game got a bit sloppy and a very stubborn Sedgley Park scored a brace of tries in quick succession, which was displeasing.

Next weekend we will play Plymouth Albion and it is going to be a very physical encounter. Local derbies always seem to have that little bit more bite to it. Not long ago they beat a very decent Nottingham side so we know that we will have to raise our game and be at our very best.

It is a fascinating time watching some of the superstitious behaviour in the pre-match build up. The list really is endless.

The left sock always put on before the right, brown tape always on top of the white, music listened to in a particular order. I've seen most things but I am yet to see anyone put their socks on after their boots. If you have this uncanny ability please do let me know.



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see also
Chiefs duo in England sevens call
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Sedgley Park 12-35 Exeter
24 Jan 09 |  Rugby Union
Chiefs prop gets Ireland 'A' call
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Redruth sign former Chief Lewis
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Centre Kelly is let go by Chiefs
21 Jan 09 |  Rugby Union
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Devon clubs get differing draws
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