Exeter's trip to Aviva Premiership leaders Harlequins vital to their ambitions this term
Head coach Rob Baxter is determined to keep Exeter Chiefs' Aviva Premiership season alive with a positive result against Harlequins tomorrow.
Eighth-placed Chiefs head to The Stoop this weekend to take on the league leaders with their hopes of improving on last season's fifth-place finish still intact.
A run of five winless games in the Premiership came to an end last weekend against London Welsh, raising hopes of completing a league double over Quins this weekend.
"What gives us heart is knowing we are a good side," said Baxter. "We have avoided getting on emotional roller coasters and being down our ourselves and I think that saw some results at the weekend.
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"We have stayed positive about what we've tried to do. The results have not always gone our way and we are very aware of that and there have been things we have had to work on.
"You look at where we are now, three points behind where we were this time last season. Considering the way some people talk about the latest run of games we've had, you would not believe it is that close.
"We have got an opportunity to pull some results together and do very well, or we can let the season fizzle out. I think the attitude of the players this week shows you where their minds are.
"Last week's win has kept the season alive for us. The situation has changed after five valuable points and the season is exciting again for us.
"That is how we have to approach this weekend, we have to be excited by going to Harlequins and play in that manner. We are a good side and dangerous when we do that so we will aim to be very positive."
Baxter said Chiefs' 42-28 victory over Quins at Sandy Park in October will have little or no bearing on this weekend.
"I'm not too concerned about doubles and beating individual teams, we have always just talked about what we can try to achieve," the head coach said.
"The reality is Harlequins are a very good side and are a team that have a little bit of swagger about them and rightly so.
"They are a team that are playing in every area of the pitch, in a variety of ways. That makes them dangerous but also a little bit easier to prepare for because you prepare for everything.
"We like to play a little bit like that and hopefully that holds us in good stead. We just have to be focused, switched on and stay alert."
Baxter will make late assessments on a number of his squad. Centre Jason Shoemark and forwards Dean Mumm and Hoani Tui all left the field early through injury against London Welsh last weekend.
However, their potential loss is mitigated by the return to fitness of numerous others.
"We are a bit bumped and bruised from the weekend," said Baxter. "We picked up three or four injuries and guys had to come off. Jason, Dean and Hoani are being assessed on a day-by-day basis – some of them have had some limited time in training already and are on their way back.
"The squad is slowly becoming fitter, we are getting injured players coming back. Dave Ewers was back last week and Chris Whitehead is more or less there now and so is James Hanks. We will have a few more back after the two-week break, so we are slowly getting there."