Alex Brown delighted by dream Exeter Chiefs start
Exeter Chiefs prop Alex Brown admitted it does not come much better than making your first Aviva Premiership start in a stunning 27-16 victory at defending champions and league leaders Harlequins.
The 23-year-old summer signing from Doncaster Knights played the first 60 minutes last Saturday before making way for Wales international Craig Mitchell.
He fell foul of referee David Rose at scrum time on occasions, but he did not let head coach Rob Baxter down with his performance.
"It was fantastic and I'm still trying to get my head around it," said Brown. "The support we had from our fans was tremendous, and you can really hear and feel it. Twenty minutes into the second half, when you're getting tired, that 16th man is there helping you out. The travelling support is one of the great things about being at the Chiefs."
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Few people would have given Exeter any chance of pulling off a shock result before the game, even though they had beaten Quins at Sandy Park in October, with first playing eighth in the table, but Brown said the players did not see it that way.
"It is rugby, and on any day it is the team that wants it the most, and that showed in our performance," he said.
"We had a real hunger for it, and we had a really good training week, just like we did leading into the London Welsh game the week before, and I think that positivity and energy came on to the pitch with us."
Exeter found themselves trailing after only six minutes to a wonderfully executed try by England wing Ugo Monye. A long afternoon looked on the cards for the men from Devon, but they bounced back well from that early setback.
"It is Rob's philosophy that you don't push the panic button. Things like that can make you panic and stop playing, but we are not a team to do that," said Brown.
"You just keep your composure, and stick to your game-plan, and I think that worked really well."
Exeter's Gareth Steenson was named man of the match after an inspired display at fly-half, but Brown felt plenty of praise was due elsewhere as well.
"Gareth was absolutely fantastic, but hats off to all the guys. From one to 15, there were some big performances, and also from guys coming off the bench. You can start picking boys out, but it was a whole team effort."
Quins' front row had a combined 25kg weight advantage over the Exeter trio, and more experience than Brown, Carl Rimmer and Jack Yeandle, who are all playing their first season in the Premiership.
"There was a little bit of inexperience on my part, and that is about learning, and it was going to happen to me, making my first league start," said Brown.
"It is not going to go our way all the time, and you have got to have contingency plans for that."
Brown did not seem to let the scrum penalties he gave away affect him too much, and he praised his team-mates for their help in getting him through it.
"Sometimes it was getting to me, but that is the great thing about having a team and a great bunch of guys around you," said Brown.
"They just tell you to concentrate on your next job, and having that really big presence from Tommy Hayes and James Scaysbrook is great."
With five matches of the league season left, and Exeter only five points outside of the top six in the league and probable Heineken Cup qualification, there is all to play for.
"This is the most exciting part of the season, and hopefully we can keep that energy rolling after our two-week break," said Brown.