Henry Slade insists no-one at Exeter Chiefs will be dishing out any Christmas cheer when they travel to local rivals Bath Rugby on Saturday.
As 2014 nears its end, Exeter fans can look back on a year to remember, having lifted the LV= Cup in March for a first ever major trophy triumph.
That success has carried over into this Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign with the Chiefs currently flying high in third place.
However Exeter’s four-game winning run in the league came to an end last time out as Sale Sharks won 18-11 at the AJ Bell Stadium.
That ensured fans headed into Christmas off the back of a defeat, but Slade is determined to not let lightning strike twice with the New Year fast approaching and a trip to The Rec to look forward to.
“The boys have been looking forward to this fixture for a while now,” Slade said. “When the fixtures come out you always look at the Christmas ones and see who you have got so it is good to have a local derby.
“It is a massive test for us. We were disappointed with the result and the way we played up against Sale on Friday and we are hoping to put it right this weekend.
“When you are slightly off your game at this level you get punished whoever you are playing against and we were playing against a good Sale side who had a good strong pack.
“They played really well and they won the little things and when you win all those little things it adds up to the big picture and that is how the game went.
“We have performed well against top-four teams this year and hopefully we can continue that, but we are under no illusions as to how tough that is going to be.
“Whatever side they pick it will be a strong combination in midfield, we know that and we are prepared for that.
“We weren’t physical enough and we weren’t good enough against Sale and we have to come back with a response. If that is going to happen we are going to have to work for it and, like we have done all season, we have to get back to working for each other.”
While 2014 has been a year to remember for Exeter Chiefs, it has also been the same for Slade who made his debut for England against the Barbarians in June.
He kicked 15 points in an impressive performance that day, however the 21-year-old is taking nothing for granted with a World Cup on home soil fast approaching.
“A World Cup coming up on home soil and it is every player's dream to play in that,” he added.
“But what I have been saying for a while is the only way I will get in is by playing well for Exeter and that is what I am focussed on, performing week in week out for Exeter.”
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