Aussie flank Ben White says Exeter Chiefs cannot wait to get stuck into Leicester Tigers in their latest Premiership encounter this Sunday.
Buoyed by back-to-back league wins over London Wasps and London Irish, the Chiefs are now busy preparing themselves for the visit of the defending champions to Sandy Park.
It’s a fixture which is sure to test the credentials of the Devon club – particularly given the currently visitors sit second in the standings – but White says recent form has given him and his team-mates a real belief they can topple Richard Cockerill’s men.
“The Tigers are an amazing team and we need to step up a gear and have a real go at them,” said White, who joined the Chiefs in 2011 after five years with Pro12 side Cardiff Blues.
“It was great to back up our win over Wasps with victory at London Irish. We don’t want to go on a roller-coaster up and down. We want to keep going up and up and up, and we took another step forward on Saturday. The Premiership is the hardest competition and four points is awesome and should help push us up the table.”
However, White knows the Chiefs can ill afford to allow the Tigers the same sort of lead they afforded to Irish during the second half of last week’s game at the Madejski Stadium. Indeed, with just over 20 minutes remaining, Exeter trailed 23-12 and were in danger of slipping to their second Premiership defeat of the season.
The Chiefs, though, are made of stern stuff and when Exiles prop John Yapp was sin-binned for a professional foul, they duly made their numerical advantage tell as they claimed converted scores through skipper Dean Mumm and White himself.
“I think the boys were maybe trying a bit too hard in the first half. We were just not playing smart, and maybe not respecting the ball as much as we should have been,? explained 29-year-old White.
“Penalties are crucial, and we have just got to sharpen up on that for this weekend against Leicester.
“Then we lost Tom James, and that hit us hard, because Tom Johnson had to drop to the backs, and then Irish had a couple of good scrums, and put us under pressure.”
But as Exeter duly noted, playing with a man down in the top flight is far from easy and the Chiefs duly made Irish pay for Yapp’s persistent indiscretion.
“The boys were playing for each other, we put all the stuff together, had a couple of good scrums, a couple of good phases and it worked out for us,” said White.
“For my try it was a great scrum by the boys, a great pick by Tom Johnson, and the ball popped up to me, and I will take that one.”
We look at all the Round Four action!
Friday, September 27
Northampton Saints v Sale Sharks
(Franklin’s Garden – Kick-off: 19.45; 18.45 GMT)
Northampton Saints 100 per cent winning record this season perished at Gloucester on Saturday in a narrow 24-26 defeat.
The Saints have won their last five Premiership matches played on a Friday.
Sale Sharks only defeat in their last four matches was 14-15 at home to Newcastle in round 2.
The Sharks are bidding to win back to back away games in the Premiership for the first time since the start of the 2008/09 season.
Sale have won just one of their last nine encounters with the Saints in all competitions: 29-21 at Edgeley Park in September 2011, whilst Sale have not been victorious at Franklin’s Gardens since May 2006.
Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Samu Manoa, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Kahn Fotuali’i, 22 James Wilson, 23 Ken Pisi.
Sale Sharks: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Rob Miller, 13 Mark Cueto, 12 Andy Forsyth, 11 Tom Brady, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Mark Easter, 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid (captain), 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Kirill Kulemin, 3 Vadim Colbilas, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Eifion Lewis Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Johnathan Mills, 20 Andrei Ostrikov, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Phil McKenzie.
Referee: David Rose
Assistant Referees: Stuart Terheege & Nigel Carrick
TMO: Rowan Kitt
Saturday, September 28
Bath v London Irish
(Recreation Ground – Kick-off: 15.00; 14.00 GMT)
Bath lost their perfect start to the season, going down 17-31 at Saracens on Sunday.
Bath’s only defeat at The Rec in any competition in 2013 was to Stade Français in the quarter finals of last season’s European Challenge Cup.
London Irish’s only victory in their last four fixtures was 20-18 at Worcester in round 2.
The Exiles have not won successive away games in Premiership since beating Newcastle and Exeter on their own turf in October 2010.
Bath have lost only one of their last seven clashes with the Exiles: 22-29 at Madejski Stadium last September, whilst Irish have not been victorious at The Rec since November 2009.
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dave Attwood (captain), 4 Dominic Day, 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Stuart Hooper, 20 Alafoti Fa’osiliva, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ollie Devoto, 23 Tom Biggs.
London Irish: 15 Topsy Ojo, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Ian Humphreys; 9 Tomás O’Leary (captain), 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Declan Danaher, 6 Kieran Low, 5 Jebb Sinclair, 4 Nic Rouse, 3 Leo Halavatau, 2 David Paice, 1 Matt Parr.
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 John Yapp, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Ian Gough, 20 Bryn Evans, 21 Blair Cowan, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Darren Allinson.
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Paul Burton & Peter Huckle
TMO: Keith Lewis
London Wasps v Worcester Warriors
(Adams Park – Kick-off: 15.00; 14.00 GMT)
London Wasps have lost their last eleven fixtures in all competitions, and have never before begun a league campaign with four successive defeats.
Worcester Warriors have lost their last eight matches, since beating Wasps 29-23 at Sixways on 1st March.
The Warriors have not won away from home in Premiership since they visited Adams Park on New Year’s Day 2012 and beat their hosts 6-0.
Worcester’s record at Adams Park in all competitions is won 2 lost 7, whilst they have not managed to score a try at the venue in the Premiership since Sam Tuitupou’s effort in September 2008.
Wasps: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Ben Jacobs, 12 Chris Bell (captain), 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Charlie Davies, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Sam Jones, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Will Taylor, 19 Tom Palmer, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Jack Moates, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Charlie Hayter.
Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Ravai Fatiaki, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 David Lemi, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Semisi Taulava, 7 Jake Abbott, 6 Jonathan Thomas (captain), 5 Chris Jones, 4 Mike Williams, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 George Porter.
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Paul Andrew, 18 John Andress, 19 Dean Schofield, 20 Sam Betty, 21 Jeremy Su’a, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Dean Hammond.
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Roy Maybank & Andrew Pearce
TMO: David Grashoff
Harlequins v Saracens
(Twickenham Stoop – Kick-off: 15.15; 14.15 GMT)
Harlequins got back to winning ways last Friday at Worcester with a 37-13 victory, however last time out at Twickenham Stoop they were defeated 6-13 by Northampton and have not lost back to back games at the venue since February 2010.
Saracens have made the perfect start to the Premiership season with three maximum point hauls – no club has ever begun a Premiership season with four bonus point wins.
This is already Saracens best start to a Premiership campaign since they won their opening eight encounters in 2009/10.
Harlequins have defeated Saracens just once in their last eight fixtures: 24-19 at Wembley Stadium in March 2012.
Saracens have won on five of their last six visits to The Stoop.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 George Lowe, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Maurie Fa’asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Nick Easter, 3 Will Collier, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 George Merrick, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Matt Hopper.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Chris Wyles, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 George Kruis, 4 Steve Borthwick (captain), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Nick Auterac, 19 James Johnston, 19 Alistair Hargreaves, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Michael Tagicakibau, 23 Jack Wilson.
Referee: Martin Fox
Assistant Referees: Gareth Copsey & Andy Watson
TMO: Sean Davey
Sunday, September 29
Exeter Chiefs v Leicester Tigers
(Sandy Park – Kick-off: 14.00; 13.00 GMT)
Exeter Chiefs’ solo defeat in their last seven the Premiership games was 11-38 away at Northampton in round 1.
The Chiefs have won their last three matches at Sandy Park since Leicester beat them there, 12-9, on 23rd March.
Leicester Tigers have lost just one of their last six games: 20-27 at Bath in round 2.
The Tigers have now lost their last three away games in all competitions, to Toulon in the European Cup quarterfinal and twice at Bath in the Premiership.
Leicester achieved a Premiership double over Exeter last season reversing the Chiefs double triumph over the Tigers in 2011/12. Leicester’s overall record at Sandy Park in all competitions is won two lost two, whilst their try scoring in those games has been 3, 2, 1 and zero, in that order.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Ian Whitten, 13 Jason Shoemark, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Tom James, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Dave Ewers, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (captain), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Carl Rimmer, 19 Tom Hayes, 20 Ben White, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Matt Jess.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Niall Morris, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Vereniki Goneva, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Toby Flood (captain), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Ed Slater, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Logovi’i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Dan Bowden.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant Referees: Ashley Rowden & Roger Baileff
TMO: Geoff Warren
Newcastle Falcons v Gloucester
(Kingston Park – Kick-off: 15.00; 14.00 GMT)
Newcastle Falcons only win from the opening three rounds of the Premiership was 15-14 at Sale in round 2.
The Falcons recent record at Kingston Park in all competitions is a disappointing won two lost three.
Newcastle are yet to score a try this season – only one other team has begun a Premiership season without a try in their first three games – Leicester in 2009/10.
Gloucester’s 26-24 last gasp win over Northampton on Saturday ended a three game losing streak.
Gloucester have not won away from home since they visited Northampton in early February – their only away win in the Premiership since late September 2012.
The Falcons have won their last two encounters with Gloucester whilst the visitors have not won in the Premiership at Kingston Park since 23rd December 2007.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Adam Powell, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Tom Catterick, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch (captain), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Dom Barrow, 4 Carlo del Fava, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Franck Montanella.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Rob Vickers, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Scott MacLeod, 20 Chris York, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Phil Godman, 23 Alex Crockett.
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 James Simpson-Daniel, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Will James, 4 Tom Savage (captain), 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Dan Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Koree Britton, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Rupert Harden, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Mike Tindall, 23 Charlie Sharples.
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant Referees: Robin Goodliffe & Paul Dix
TMO: Trevor Fisher