17th April 2014
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Having returned to winning ways with last weekend's 38-33 win at lowly Worcester Warriors, Devon's finest can expect another stiff examination against the visiting Sharks.

With qualification into Europe's new-look Champions Cup very much up for grabs, the need to accrue vital Premiership points has never been more important with just three rounds of the domestic season remaining.

Irishman Steenson - who marked his recall to the Exeter line-up with an 18-point haul last time out - is well aware of the stakes on offer and is hoping the Chiefs can deliver a top-notch performance on home soil.

“We want to be back up at the top table, playing in the top competition and we’ve got to earn the right to do it. We always seem to make hard work of it.

“For us it’s just about going out and performing against Sale, we can’t look too much further than that. We’ve made the mistake in the past that we’ve started looking further down the line than we should do.

“We need to stick to what we’re good at, and that’s getting ready for the game at the weekend and then assess where we are after that.

“It is a big game for us and it is a big game for them as well. They know that if they come down here and get a result they guarantee getting themselves in that top European competition.

“It’s like a cup final, and it’s a nice thing for us to have it at home in front of our own supporters.”

With only one defeat against the Sharks since their elevation into the Premiership back in 2010, the Chiefs certainly know how to get the better of the Manchester-based outfit, who currently lie a place and 11 points ahead of their weekend rivals.

However, Steenson's says past successes will count for little ahead of this latest match-up and says it's vital the Chiefs make the most of home advantage to bolster their own qualification hopes.

“Whenever you go out to play it’s down to what happens on the day, it doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past,” said Steenson, who kicked six penalties in Exeter’s 18-16 defeat of Sale in November.

“We’re coming off the back of a good win away from home and we’re very aware we lost our last home game and we want to put that right. If we can go out and put in a good performance, hopefully the result will look after itself.”

Certainly Steenson showed his undoubted talents on that occasion and again last weekend where his return to the fold helped the Chiefs to rediscover their winning touch following successive league losses to Leicester Tigers and Gloucester.

The Dungannon-born back knows that it's vital he - and his team-mates for that matter - make the most of their opportunities, especially as Exeter have a wealth of talent waiting in the wings should displays not come up to scratch.

In Steenson's cases, the immediate threat for a starting berth comes from England Saxons starlet Henry Slade and experienced Welsh international Ceri Sweeney, both of whom have shown this term that they are more than capable of taking on the playmaker role for the Chiefs.

“It was very pleasing to get a run last weekend and with the way it went,” he said. “I’m very aware you have to keep playing well to keep your shirt in this team. Henry has been going really well and Ceri Sweeney is still champing at the bit to get in the team.

“Everybody is pushing everybody else and you’ve got to keep performing. Whatever team is picked for the weekend, we’ll look to put in the best performance possible to keep driving us forward.”

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Dave B

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Hi, I am Dave, I run thebestof Exeter along with my colleagues. If you want to promote your business or event, get in touch with us on 01392 349 130.

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