Hill braced for Bath clash
By Mark Stevens
Sam Hill says Exeter's victory over Saracens last weekend was an indicator of the growing maturity that now exists within the Chiefs squad.
Last Sunday's 20-18 success at Allianz Park not allowed Rob Baxter's side to increase their lead at the top of the Aviva Premiership to five points, but it brought to an end a 21-month long unbeaten home record for the Londoners.
Despite trailing 15-6 at the break, the Chiefs dug deep into their reserves during the second half and were eventually rewarded with converted tries for both Ian Whitten and Moray Low.
Hill, who was named BT Sport's man of the match on the day, was a key figure in Exeter's seventh league win of the season, producing a powerful midfield pairing alongside Whitten.
Together the duo were right at the forefront of a miserly Chiefs defence which, after a somewhat sluggish first quarter, manfully dealt with the attacking threat posed by the reigning European champions.
"To win at Saracens was a really good result for us," said Hill, who was making his first league start of the season having recovered from surgery on his foot. "We had a bit of a slow start and a couple of our mistakes let them in for two tries. However, the second half of the first half was a lot better from us.
"Slowly we started to claw things back and after the break we were much better. We knew we would have to carry through brick walls, such is the strength of their defence, but over time we wore them down, they started to tire, and in the end we capitalised with the two tries."
Although only nine rounds into their title defence, Hill and the Chiefs knew the importance of this latest victory, particularly against one of their main rivals for the Premiership crown.
"It's a big scalp for us," continued the Exeter centre. "It's always tough coming up here, so to get the win is huge and it's put us in a great position in terms of the table.
"A few years ago we'd probably have lost that game, but we're a lot more experienced now and we always fight to the end in every game. Within the squad there is a real confidence that whatever the situation, we can deal with it and come away with the result we want."
Now, Hill and his fellow Chiefs are busy readying themselves for their next assignment, namely the visit of local rivals Bath to a sold out Sandy Park this Saturday.
"It will be another tough game, they always are against Bath," added Hill. "We know the threat they carry and we know they beat us here last year. They are going well at the moment, they've picked up some good results, but you can say the same about us. We know, however, there is room for improvement in our own performance, so hopefully being at home will help bring the best out of us at the weekend."