Gareth Steenson insists Exeter Chiefs can ill afford to be afraid of the rewards that are on offer with the Aviva Premiership heading towards a dramatic conclusion over the coming weeks.
With just two rounds of the scheduled season remaining, the Devon club are still firmly in the race for the end-of-season play-offs, this despite slipping to a 36-29 defeat against Wasps on Sunday.
That loss, coupled with Leicester's bonus point win over bottom club London Welsh 24 hours earlier, saw Rob Baxter's side slip a place to fifth in the current standings.
However, a last-gasp drop-goal from Steenson did ensure the Chiefs headed home from the Ricoh Arena with a vital bonus point – reward which could yet prove invaluable come the end of May.
Post-match, Steenson admitted he and his team-mates had been left 'disappointed' with their display, but insists there is still much to play for in the final two games against Saracens (away) and Sale Sharks (home).
"It’s disappointing, we probably let a game slip there because we had opportunities to get a result," said the Irishman. "At the end of the season, to come to places like this is tough to get a result.
"We got ourselves back in the game to be three points down and then it’s a pressure game situation. Fair play to Wasps, though, they were under a lot of pressure, but it was a great try from Joe Simpson.
"To get away with a bonus point gets ourselves into the top (European) comp next year, so that’s key for us. Now we’ve got a couple of games to try to get ourselves into that top-four spot."
Having moments earlier seen a penalty chance slip wide of the target, Dungannon-born Steenson masterfully stepped forward to fire over a sublime drop-goal with the very last kick of the game.
"It was a pretty big kick in the grand scheme of things," said Steenson, who lies second in Exeter's all-time points-scoring charts behind Tony Yapp. "It was a pity it wasn't the kick before, that's hit my stats a wee bit, but the way the guys went about it at the end, to get that opportunity and the chance to get a bonus point with the drop-goal, I'll take that."
With the Chiefs set for their first weekend off since the start of the season, Steenson says it's imperative the club use the rest break as the perfect scenario to recharge their batteries ahead of their testing away day at Saracens on Sunday, May 10.
"We've got a few days off now and then we'll be back in at the end of the week," said Steenson. "After that we’ve just got to get ourselves ready for what will two big games to finish.
"We’ve got to go out and attack it, not be afraid of where we are and simply go after it. That is the real message we are trying to get across – not to be afraid of where we are – but more 'let's go and grab something'."
Whatever unfolds in these final few weeks, Steenson – who has been at the club since joining from the Cornish Pirates in 2008 – insists it's been another year of real progress at Sandy Park.
"Again there have been lots of positives," he added. "Today's result means we have already equalled our best tally in the Premiership and we've got two games at least still to go. We always talk about being better and if you look at what we've achieved – we've got to an LV Final again; got to a European semi-final and we're right in there fighting for a top four spot – it's been great so far. However, we have still got a great chance to get into the top four, so we just have to go after it."