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Preview: Exeter Chiefs v London Irish

Preview: Exeter Chiefs v London Irish

Exeter Chiefs suffered a narrow defeat to Bath Rugby in their Aviva Premiership Rugby opener last weekend but Phil Dollman is keen to build on the positives when they take on London Irish at Sandy Park this Saturday.

The Chiefs went down 19-17 to Bath and have never begun an Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign with a pair of defeats.

Exeter are a force to be reckoned with at home – their single defeat at Sandy Park in the last ten league fixtures being a 26-25 reverse to Gloucester Rugby on January 3.

But full-back Dollman knows they must be at their best to down the Exiles.

“You can’t take anything for granted. If you’re not on your game from minute one against sides like London Irish then you’ll find yourself struggling to win the game,” he said.

“They’ve got dangers across the park and offer something different to last week, so we’ve got to adjust our gameplan.

“We’ll need to make sure we’re doing the right things attackingly and defensively so we can be dominant from the word go.

“We’ve got to concentrate on getting a result here at home to build on what we did last week where we performed pretty well but didn’t get the win we were striving for.

“You can take lots from it. We’re doing the right things and playing the right kind of rugby but there is just little tweak or one per cents that might produce wins away from home in difficult places.”

For their part, London Irish went down 28-16 to Leicester Tigers at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday.

The Exiles are winless in their last four Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures and have only won one league game away from home since Round Four last season.

They have only beaten Exeter once at Sandy Park – back in October 2010 – and scrum-half Brendan McKibbin is under no illusions about the magnitude of the task.

“I thought Exeter were very unlucky not to beat Bath last weekend, so we know that it will be a very tough task going down there,” he said.

“We just had to knuckle down now and focus this week, especially on our ball handling because we had something like 16 drops against Leicester.

“We gifted Leicester the ball so we need to treat possession better this week.

“I think we’ve proven that we can score tries when we have got ball in hand, so we just need to focus and concentrate on cutting out the mistakes.”

Sandy Park, 6pm

Referee: Andrew Small (118th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Andrew Pearce & Wayne Falla. TMO: Geoff Warren.

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