Gareth Steenson: Saracens will test Premiership play-off contenders Exeter’s standing as ‘a top side’

 

Gareth Steenson has warned that Premiership play-off contenders Exeter are ready to “push on and achieve more” after positioning themselves strongly for domestic and European success.

Only Saracens – the Chiefs’ Sandy Park visitors today – and Northampton have lost fewer league games this season than fourth-placed Exeter, who also top their Heineken Cup group.

It has been an impressive opening two months for Exeter and underlines their admirable progress under head coach Rob Baxter, having attained Premiership status only in 2010.

“We have earned the right to be there, and now that we are there we want to push on and achieve more,” fly-half Steenson said yesterday. “We should treat ourselves as a top side. We are doing well at the minute, but we’re well aware over the next couple of weeks that Bath and Saracens are top sides and then we’ve got Toulon as well. It is something to really look forward to.

“Saracens are the top team in the league, and it’s going to be a massive test of the lads. They are a physical team, and if you don’t bring that side of it as well, you’re in for a long afternoon. They have threats right across the park, and they have a lot of England internationals in there. They are very disciplined and have a great kicking game. Up front they are physical, but they have other guys with great footwork in the backs.

“We want these big teams coming down. We haven’t really performed that well against teams in the top four yet, and it’s something the guys are focusing on.”

Gloucester tackle Harlequins at The Stoop today, with neither side having yet made an impact. “It will be an intriguing fixture, normally quite entertaining. The game at Kingsholm last season was one of the best games I’ve seen for a long, long time,” said Gloucester’s rugby director, Nigel Davies. “But this is a different set of circumstances, with two teams desperate for the win, maybe not on top of their games as much as they would like to be. I think it will be quite a tense affair.

“They [Quins] are a quality side. They have been right up there for the past two or three years and probably won’t be too happy with their own form right now.”

If Saracens slip up at Exeter, Northampton, boosted by the returning England players Ben Foden, Lee Dickson and Courtney Lawes, can replace them at the Premiership summit by beating Newcastle at Franklin’s Gardens. The Falcons will arrive as outsiders, although they have acquitted themselves well since regaining Premiership status.

“Northampton is a tough proposition for the boys, but this is what we are back in the Premiership for, to play in the big games like these,” said Newcastle’s rugby director Dean Richards.

“We will have to be right on our game to get a result and, hopefully, we can build on our solid start to the season. Three wins and a losing bonus point isn’t a bad return in the Premiership, but there is much room for improvement.”

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower