6th March 2014
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The two Westcountry rivals will engage in battle for a fourth time this season at the Recreation Ground on Sunday (1pm) – and the stakes could not be higher with victory ensuring a date with either Northampton Saints or Saracens at Sandy Park a week later.

Having met on 11 previous occasions since 2010, the Chiefs have yet to taste victory against their nearest and dearest in any competitive first-team fixture.

However, Bateman hopes that unbeaten sequence will be duly ended by Rob Baxter’s side in what promises to be another titanic tussle.

“We’ve been here before and we know all about Bath,” said the 25-year-old forward. “It’s not like we are worried about them too much, the worry is more about us not performing again.

“We know we need to go up there and produce an 80-minute performance if we are going to win. Perhaps in the past that’s something we’ve not maybe before, but for this game we have to be on our game from minute one to eighty.”

With little to choose between either side in the three games played this season, the Chiefs will be hoping to use the confidence of last weekend’s 18-0 win over London Irish in the Aviva Premiership as the foundation for this weekend’s assault on their arch rivals.

“We definitely needed that win,” added Bateman, who joined the Chiefs last summer from London Welsh. “The lads worked hard and we got our rewards in the end.

“One of the differences, I suppose, was that we were a lot more disciplined around the field and we didn’t give them [Irish] too many chances.”

Exeter’s disciplined approach was certainly underlined by the fact that Irish failed to trouble the scorers in what was a full-blooded, top-flight contest.

Bateman admitted the victory – which ended a five-game losing streak for the Chiefs in the Premiership – was not only richly deserved, but helped to restore confidence within the camp.

“Rob doesn’t tend to get too carried away whether we are on winning or losing streaks,” said Bateman. “It’s just week by week things that we tend to look at. Coming into the game the lads were focused on what they needed to do and we stuck to what we know we are good at. As you saw, we were able to grind out a great result.”

Bateman was used as a second half replacement last Saturday, coming on for highly-rated youngster Luke Cowan-Dickie who is one of a handful of hookers the Chiefs have within their ranks.

It marked a first Premiership appearance for the Frimley-born forward since his arrival in Devon and he is hopeful that more opportunities will follow in the coming weeks and months.

“It’s been a long time coming, but I was really pleased to get out there,” said Bateman. “Hopefully, I can build from here and get some more game time.

“Obviously there are three or four other guys wanting to do the same, but if you look across the squad we have people that you could consider starters for every position. I think having that competition for places is really good as it raises standards and  it make everyone perform well because they know there is always someone ready to step in if not.”

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Dave B

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