Thomas Waldrom says it’s vital Exeter Chiefs continue to "stamp their authority" on games if they are to keep themselves amongst the Aviva Premiership frontrunners.
Five wins in seven starts have lifted Rob Baxter’s side to second in the current standings, just two points behind leaders and defending champions Northampton Saints, who they happened to defeat 24-18 on Friday night at Franklin’s Gardens.
Summer signing Waldrom helped lead the way for the Chiefs as his try double nestled nicely alongside an early score from fellow forward Luke Cowan-Dickie and a further nine points from the boot of fly-half Gareth Steenson.
Exeter’s win not only kept the Devon club firmly in the mix at the top of the table, but ensured them of a first-ever league win at Northampton.
It was therefore little wonder that Waldrom and his team-mates were all smiles at the final whistle. He said: "We know this is a very tough place to come, especially as they pride themselves on their home record.
"Obviously we’re very happy with the performance and to take four points home from here, but we have to build from here."
In a dominant first half display, the Chiefs led 21-6 at the break before extending that lead to 24-6 early in the second period thanks to a successful Steenson penalty.
Although the Saints fought back strongly thanks to tries from Tom Stephenson and Jamie Elliott, the Chiefs were not to be denied as they dug deep into their defensive reserves.
Post-match, England international Waldrom – who signed for the Chiefs in the summer from league rivals Leicester Tigers – praised the characters of his team-mates.
He added: "I thought some of the work-rate out there was outstanding. The boys really put their bodies on the line and they’ll be hurting tomorrow for sure. Right now, we’re all enjoying ourselves; we’re doing the hard yards every week and it’s great to be part of it all.
"We know it’s only going to get tougher as the season continues, but these arm wrestle games are going to be important. Later on in the season we can use nights like tonight and draw from them. Yes, it’s been a great start to the season, but as I said we have to move on.
"Last week [against Bath] was a good hit out for us as it got some of the rust out and probably did us well. The work the coaches are doing is fantastic and they know how to get us up for these important games."
Next on the agenda for the Chiefs is Saturday’s visit of Wasps to Sandy Park, quickly followed by another home engagement against Saracens on November 29.
The experienced Waldrom knows both games are sure to again test the Chiefs, but it’s a challenge he and his fellow players are keen to accept.
"Right now it’s all going well, but we have to be on our game if we want to compete with every team in this division. We’ve got two more games in this Premiership block, both at Sandy Park, so we must make sure we stamp our authority on things and make it hard for everyone who comes here."
With six tries already in the bag, Waldrom admits he is loving life in the Westcountry and is relishing the role he has been asked to play for the Chiefs.
"It’s all about enjoying your footy," he said. "Coming here I’ve been given a bit of a free licence and I’m just really enjoying myself. It’s all coming into place and having this new challenge was just what I needed.
"At the same time, I’m aware – as are the rest of the guys – that we have to be on our toes and keep delivering performances. We’ve had some hard fought wins already this season, so we’ve got to make sure we keep doing what we’re doing and come out on the right side of games."