Exeter Chiefs hooker Elvis Taione believes his side’s recent LV= Cup semi-final victory at Welford Road gives them real momentum ahead of their Aviva Premiership Rugby clash with Leicester Tigers.
The Chiefs, who currently sit second in the league table after four successive wins, edged a thrilling contest in the East Midlands a fortnight ago, Taione’s front-row counterpart Greg Bateman scoring the crucial late try.
Both sides are likely to line up differently for this weekend’s shootout, with Leicester able to leapfrog their West Country visitors if they can record a fifth consecutive Aviva Premiership Rugby success.
And Taione is hopeful that Exeter’s LV= Cup win can give them a potentially crucial added sense of belief.
“They will put out a very strong team, and everybody knows it is not an easy place to go and get a result, but we are confident in our ability to come away with the points,” the Tongan international said.
“We are really confident after the LV= Cup result, hopefully that can take us a long way this weekend, and we will need that, especially given the home crowd they have behind them.
“We can’t wait to get out there and try to get another win. If we do what we can do then the result will take care of itself, we know how to do the job.
“As a rugby player you play to compete in big games and see how you can handle the pressure. Personally I love the big ones, like this fixture and the LV= Cup final last weekend.
“As a kid you dream of playing in those matches, so it is always hugely enjoyable.”
The Tigers will be desperate to reverse that recent defeat at the hands of Rob Baxter’s men and the fact they have lost only one Aviva Premiership Rugby match at Welford Road this campaign suggests they can do just that.
But Leicester lock Graham Kitchener is under no illusions about the size of the challenge facing them.
“They have played really well all season, they are a quality team,” he said.
“Their pack has been a very effective weapon, but you also have to be very wary of their back row – and the Chiefs backline is one of the best in the league.
“It’s going to be a tough game without a doubt, and they’ve won at Welford Road in the last couple of weeks so they’ll be coming here again to give it a good crack.
“But we know this is a must-win game for us – they all are now.
“We have to win all of our last five games, and we can’t look too far beyond the Exeter game because this is our biggest game of the season.”
Welford Road, 3pm
Referee: JP Doyle (93rd Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Gareth Copsey and Andy Watson. TMO: Rowan Kitt.