Steeno wants to end 2018 on a high

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Gareth Steenson says he and his Exeter Chiefs team-mates must back up Saturday's win over Saracens with another big performance against Northampton Saints. Picture:

By Mark Stevens

Gareth Steenson believes the Exeter Chiefs have given the perfect response after suffering what some would call a ‘mini dip’ in form earlier this month.

Defeats to Harlequins in the Gallagher Premiership and Gloucester in the Heineken Champions Cup had some observers questioning the staying power of the Devonians as they headed towards the New Year.

Back-to-back losses having become a somewhat rare occurrence for the Chiefs in recent times, but Rob Baxter’s side have since bounced back in emphatic style, seeing off the Cherry & Whites on their own patch to rekindle their European aspirations, while defending Premiership champions Saracens were handsomely seen off last Saturday at Sandy Park.

That latest victory not only ended a 22-game unbeaten run for the Londoners, but ensured Rob Baxter’s side leapfrogged them at the summit of the table.

Chiefs TV: Gareth Steenson post-match reaction after our win against Saracens

Long-serving fly-half Steenson admitted a few ‘home truths’ had been spoken in the wake of those two losses, but that there was no over-reaction from anyone inside the club - and that a few tweaks here and there has helped to ensure the club were quickly back on the straight and narrow.

“We’ve all been in the Premiership long enough to know you don’t always get it your own way,” said the Irishman. “It’s how you react and the lessons you learn that is the key thing.Last time here against Gloucester we knew let ourselves down, but the good thing was we put it right within a week.

“We talked after that loss about playing our game, sticking to what we are strong at, and we’ve shown that in these last two games. It’s probably the first time we’ve done it against Saracens, but it shows what we can do and that’s a real positive for us.

“For us it’s a great way to finish off 2018 here at home.To get the bonus point is probably a bonus in itself, but we’re delighted at the way we’ve stuck at things.We’ve had a couple of weeks, where we had a good look ourselves and asked certain questions, but it happens most seasons that at some stage you’ll have a dip in form. We had a few home truths, but we’ve come out of it stronger and now we’re in a good spot again.”

Now, Steenson says the Chiefs must continue their form with a big display on the road against Northampton Saints tomorrow night (7:45pm).

“Saturday’s win will mean nothing if we don’t back it up at Northampton on Friday night,” added the Exeter playmaker. “We’ve got a good squad here now. We’ve got youth fellas who are performing well, the internationals have come back in and done well, and us older boys are helping to drive things on as well. You can see both in training and in games, we’re setting high standards and we want to get better.

“These last few weeks have been good after a couple of not-so-good results, but we’ve got to keep challenging ourselves to get better.”

Certainly, the Chiefs will take plenty from toppling a Saracens outfit who, until last weekend, had not lost a game since April.

“As I said, it’s a big win for us,” continued Steenson. “At times it felt like we were running into brick walls against them, but we got our heads down and we just keeping going. At 6-0 down, we didn’t allow ourselves to go off task. Instead, we stuck to what we wanted to do and ultimately that has proved good for us.”

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