Bath Rugby may have made a fast start this season but flanker Matt Garvey insists Sunday’s clash at last season’s Aviva Premiership Rugby runners-up Exeter Chiefs will show how far they have come since Todd Blackadder arrived in the summer.
Bath sit third after five wins from six league matches, including impressive away victories at Northampton Saints and Gloucester Rugby.
They also got their European campaign off to a flying start with back-to-back victories against Pau and Bristol in the Challenge Cup, but now face one of the toughest prospects in the Aviva Premiership – a trip to Sandy Park.
Exeter had a formidable home record last season, winning ten of their 11 league matches, but Rob Baxter’s men have made a comparably slow start this time, tirumphing in just one of their three home games.
However, Garvey still expects a tough, physical contest and believes matches like these give a true representation of how good a side is.
“It is always a big game against Exeter no matter the form you are in and we have had some great games against them in the last couple of years. They are always great contests,” he said.
“It will be a good measure of where we are at. I am sure it will show us some of our weaknesses because they are a great team.
“The way we are feeling right now, we are confident that we can go there and get a result.
“We were in a similar position to them last year. When you get to a Premiership final there is a lot of pressure but if you look at their squad you see a depth there that many squads don’t have.
“Our defence has been very successful so far and it is something we are very pleased with. But we are asking why we are defending so much.
“We have got to keep the ball better and keep it for longer. Exeter are a team who play multiple phases and we are confident in our defence, but we need to keep it for longer if we are going to win.
“They will be more dangerous this weekend because they have not enjoyed such a good start and they are always tough games between us.”
Garvey is currently co-captaining Bath along with England international fly-half George Ford in the absence of club skipper Guy Mercer.
The pair have impressed in the role and admit they enjoy it, although Mercer’s imminent return from injury means Garvey will revert back to being a regular squad player soon.
“Things are going well but they are always better when you are winning. I have enjoyed being co-captain, I have learnt a lot about myself,” he said.
“I have had to change a few things in terms of my attitude and preparation in order to make it work better. I am not sure how long it will last for because Guy Mercer is fit now.
“I have enjoyed it while I have had it and hopefully my performances have reflected that.”