Fixtures - Top Bar

Exeter Chiefs’ Gareth Steenson primed for derby battle with Bristol Rugby

Gareth Steenson says Exeter Chiefs can expect to face a fired-up Bristol outfit when the two collide in tonight’s Westcountry derby at Ashton Gate (7:45pm).

Facing off competitively for the first time in six years, the Chiefs playmaker is reading little into the current fortunes of Andy Robinson’s side, who have yet to win in three games since their return to the top flight this season.

Last weekend’s 70-22 defeat at in-form Wasps represented Bristol’s lowest point yet, but Steenson believes a return to home soil, coupled with the cut and thrust of a derby occasion, will ensure this evening’s opponents will come out firing.

Add into the mix that this will also be the first time Bristol and the Chiefs have squared up since the 2010 RFU Championship Play-Off Final, when Steenson’s heroics help boot the Devonians into the Premiership for the first time, and it has all the makings of a Friday night classic.

“I’m fully expecting them to come out full throttle and we have to show our best game possible if we want to go out there and get a result,” warned Steenson.

“It’s a game they’re going to be very excited about and it’s one that we’re going to be excited about too.

“We’re expecting a big crowd from our fans who are able to travel up, so it’s one to really look forward to – on a Friday night under the lights as well, in a big city where rugby is a bit of a hotbed.

“It’s going to be an exciting evening. The last time we played them was obviously the final and the buzz about the place was huge, so if you put another six years on top of that, with them wanting to see Premiership rugby, they’re going to be excited about that.”

With it being the first meeting between the two sides since the Chiefs’ promotion, pre-match talk has obviously been focussed on that night at the Memorial Stadium and Steenson has great memories of it, but he felt Rob Baxter’s men would always end up in the Premiership, no matter if it was in 2010 or a later year.

“Obviously it was a great experience for everyone involved in the club at the time and for us personally,” he said. “I’m sure there’s a lot of people in Bristol who are still hurting about that, more so with the supporters as they’ve suffered a few hard losses since then, but for us obviously it was a great experience.

“I remember very much at the time thinking that we were going to do it, so I never let myself think anything but that we’d be playing in the Premiership the following year after that.

“If things had changed, we might have got into the Premiership the following year or it might have taken us a few years to do it but I always felt the club would get to where we are now and obviously we want to keep progressing and keep pushing on.”

Since being in the Premiership, though, the Chiefs have flourished year on year and are now widely regarded as one of the division’s top sides, having come runners-up to Saracens in last season title race.

That added expectancy on all and sundry at Sandy Park is obvious and having picked up their first win of the season against Harlequins, Steenson is keen for him and his team-mates to kick on with another big performance just up the M5.

“Last week was a really good win for us, but now we have to follow it up again,” said the Dungannon-born back. “There are still one or two areas of our game that we need to sharpen up on and that starts again on Friday.”

And whilst the Chiefs will want to improve so too will Bristol, who will be seeking a response of sorts following their humbling at the Ricoh Arena last Sunday.

“That’s just the way the games go in the Premiership and we’ve been on the receiving end of a couple of games like that as well, so we kind of know what it feels like,” added Steenson. “They were chasing the game against Wasps and, all of a sudden, mistakes happen.

“As I said, I’m expecting to see them come out firing at us on Friday night, so we have to be ready to meet that threat.”

Latest News

Whiteley hoping to lead Saracens starlets to glory in Singha 7s

Saracens scrum-half Tom Whiteley is hoping to use all his experience of competing at the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s to…

Topsy Ojo talks London Double Header memories

With six weeks to go until London Irish lock horns with Harlequins in the iconic London Double Header at Twickenham,…

Topsy Ojo

Toby Flood hopes to bring ruthless streak to Newcastle Falcons

Toby Flood is hoping to help give Newcastle Falcons the ruthless streak required to push them further up the Aviva…

Toby Flood

Aviva Premiership Rugby set for changes after six law amendments added to global trial

Aviva Premiership Rugby will be part of the global trial for six new law amendments after the World Rugby Executive…

Alex Lewington hopes London Irish youngsters will gain confidence from Singha 7s

London Irish wing Alex Lewington cannot wait to see which youngsters step up to the plate in the Singha Premiership…

Alex Lewington

Worcester Warriors sign Ireland scrum-half Peter Stringer

Warriors have signed Ireland international Peter Stringer on a six-month deal ahead of the 2017/18 season. The scrum-half will join…

Peter Stringer

Tim Streather forced to retire from rugby

Former Saracens centre Tim Streather has been forced to retire from the game due to a knee injury. Commenting on…

Tim Streather

Contract and captaincy for Dylan Hartley at Northampton Saints

Northampton Saints has today announced that Dylan Hartley has both signed a new contract and been appointed as the club’s…

Dylan Hartley

Forwards Coach George Skivington says London Irish squad are chomping at the bit

The London Irish squad have returned for pre-season training ‘hungrier’ than ever before according to Forwards Coach George Skivington. Now…

George Skivington

Wasps Academy sign Gabriel Oghre and George Thornton

Wasps announce the signing of hooker Gabriel Oghre and prop George Thornton to the Senior Academy ahead of the new…

Gabriel Oghre and George Thornton

Singha 7s gives next generation the chance to shine

Harlequins academy coach Jim Evans believes that next week’s Singha Premiership Rugby 7s will give the league’s stars of the…

Harlequins in action at the Singha 7s

Singha Premiership Rugby 7s draw confirmed

The 2017-18 Premiership Rugby season will kick off – at the end of July - in spectacular style with the Singha…

Win an Executive Box for the Singha Premiership Rugby Sevens Series

Premiership Rugby has teamed up with Northampton Saints to offer supporters the chance to win themselves an Executive Box at…

Singha 7s Ball

Dave Attwood and team-mates happy to lend a hand at Bath Rugby Foundation’s Summer Scrum

Bath Rugby lock Dave Attwood admitted helping teach rugby to children with disabilities was extremely humbling as he and his…

Gordon Reid on his first training day with London Irish

New recruit Gordon Reid is determined to be a permanent fixture in London Irish’s front row having made the switch…

Gordon Reid

Singha 7s is a chance for players to shine, says Stephen Myler

Northampton Saints’ Stephen Myler is anticipating a vibrant atmosphere and high-octane rugby when the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s arrives at…

Stephen Myler

Mark Wilson bringing his England form back to Newcastle Falcons

Newcastle Falcons’ latest England international checked back in at his club on Monday, with Mark Wilson enthusiastic about their prospects…

Mark Wilson

Worcester Warrior Chris Pennell pays tribute to community heroes

Chris Pennell paid tribute to Worcester Warriors’ grassroots spirit as he got his hands on his Aviva Community Player of…

Sale Sharks volunteer sees hard work rewarded at Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Community Awards

Sale Sharks’ Paula Bradbury couldn’t hide her delight as she was crowned Community Volunteer of the Year at the Premiership…