'I'm not sure he's ever scored three': Exeter praise 'smart' Jonny Gray after hat-trick heroics
Stuart Hogg, Don Armand and Sam Simmonds also crossed for Exeter – with Joe Simmonds converting all six scores – as the Chiefs started their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with a 42-6 victory at Sandy Park.
The French side scored two early penalties through Louis Foursans but Exeter moved up through the gears after the interval, with 27-year-old Gray leading the way.
Hepher said: “It took Jonny a time to get on the scoreboard when he first came here and I’m not sure he’s ever scored three.
“However he’s a smart player as he assessed the time to pick and go after we had thinned them out.
“He’s been out for a long time with a bad injury but it’s great to have him back as we’ve got to keep him rolling as he thinks ahead of the game.”
It took Exeter some time to wear down a durable but limited Montpellier side.
The visitors took the lead with two penalties and only trailed 7-6 at the interval before Chiefs stepped things up to make the second half one-way traffic.
Hepher said: “We are not starting especially quickly overall but this week we have little reasons why we didn’t do so as there has been a bug in the camp and it was therefore a tough training week.
“The guys fought their way through it and to get a bonus-point win sets us up nicely in the group as you have got to win your home games.
“We were passive in the first half as we stood and watched them but like last week against Saracens we reset ourselves to create opportunities, which we took well.
“It’s often difficult to play against much-changed sides as they come out with nothing to lose and they certainly troubled us in the first half.”
Next up for Exeter in Europe is an away trip to Glasgow next weekend, who are frequent opponents for Chiefs in the competition.
Hepher said: “It’s a tough game as we’ve never won up there although we got a draw last time. Any win on the road is vital and they are a tough physical side.
“It was important today to back up last week’s win over Saracens as that was very emotional. Next week is the third in this series so we need to empty our tank and come away with a victory.”
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