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Hayes keeping feet on the ground

Exeter skipper Tommy Hayes fully accepts the Chiefs' commanding start to life in the Aviva Premiership might have caught many people by surprise.

But Hayes and company are determined not to undo the good work of early displays against Gloucester, Leicester and Newcastle as they prepare for successive away-days at Harlequins and Northampton. Exeter are currently fifth, courtesy of home victories over Gloucester and Newcastle, and visit a Quins side on Saturday still seeking its first Premiership win this season.

"At the start of the season there was no point in us being afraid about being in the Premiership," said second-row forward Hayes. "We are not afraid of going to anybody to play them."

He added: "We know it is going to be hard, but we are not getting ahead of ourselves and thinking it is going to be easy to pick up points on the road.

"That is one of the hardest things to do in the Premiership, but we are not going to be afraid to go there and try to play.

"We are certainly happy with how things have gone so far. I suppose a lot of people didn't expect us to get eight points out of our first three games.

"We were possibly a little disappointed with the way we played (against Newcastle).

"We were a bit scrappier than we had been in the previous two games, so we let ourselves down slightly in that regard, but we dug out a win and that is a massive positive for us."

Bath will be looking for an immediate response from their Franklin's Gardens implosion when Sale Sharks arrive at the Recreation Ground on Saturday. The west country club lost their unbeaten record this term in emphatic fashion, smashed 31-10 by a Northampton side currently three points clear at the Premiership summit.

"It wasn't anywhere near the standards we've set ourselves. It was a very early wake-up call in the season for us," said Bath head coach Steve Meehan. "There was no indication of it before the game. Everyone was well rested and, according to the feedback on the morning, well motivated. We had a good warm-up, so to go out and lose the physical battle, particularly at the breakdown, in the way we did was very disappointing."

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