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Preview: Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints

Preview: Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints

Exeter boss Rob Baxter has challenged his Chiefs to keep up the pressure on table-topping Saracens this weekend as they entertain play-off chasing Northampton Saints at Sandy Park.

The Chiefs have a formidable home record this season and will be looking to extend that against in-form Saints, who themselves are desperate to win with a top-four finish now firmly in sight.

The Chiefs' only defeat in their last four Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters came at Leicester in round 15.

While the Chiefs are the best home side in the tournament having picked up 32 league points from their eight fixtures at Sandy Park so far.

With the season now getting to the business end, Baxter has called on Exeter to dig deep and finish with a flurry.

"We are in a unique position being two points off the top of the Premiership – that is a big thing to have and a big thing to lose," Baxter said.

"Sometimes you can worry about losing that. The guys go out on the pitch desperate to win and we want that to show positively.

“We need to make sure that we're mentally in the right place – that is the most important thing at this time of year, because you are not going to dramatically change what you can actually achieve or how you go about it at this stage.

"What has been hurting us in the last few weeks has been the amount of soft errors we have made.

"We have to focus on the individual roles of our game. Whether that is how you carry the ball into contact, how you present the ball on the floor or how you clear out – those are massive things for us.

"We need more concentration and focus on being more accurate as individuals and that comes from being in the right frame of mind.”

Northampton Saints along with Wasps share the accolade of being the best side in Aviva Premiership Rugby on current form, both having picked up 24 league points from a possible 30. 

The East Midlanders' only defeat in the last six rounds was 26-25 at Newcastle in February.

Meanwhile, Exeter's only two victories over Northampton in their last nine Premiership Rugby clashes both came last season. 

The Saints record in the tournament at Sandy Park is an impressive won three, lost two.

With six games left of the regular season, Saints are fourth in the table following last week's 26-11 victory over Sale Sharks, which moved them above Leicester Tigers.

And Northampton Saints skipper Lee Dickson has called on his side to continue their fine form in the West Country.

Dickson said: "You can say every game is massive – one slip up, one loss and you're out of the top four, so everywhere we go now for the next four or five weeks, leading up to the end games of the season, we have to win.

"We have to take points away from home and it starts this weekend going down to Exeter, who are probably the in-form team, especially at Sandy Park.

"They've got a hell of a forward pack and exciting backs. It's going to be a tough game but on recent records we've had quite a good time down there.

"We've got to make sure we front up and get ready for the weekend."

(Sandy Park, 1pm)
Referee:
Greg Garner (95th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Tom Foley & Andrew Pearce. TMO: Geoff Warren.

Live on BT Sport

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