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Cockerill expects test from Exeter

Leicester boss Richard Cockerill has hailed Exeter's impact on the Aviva Premiership in their debut season of top-flight rugby.

The Tigers head to Devon on Sunday, and Cockerill knows from first-hand experience just how big a threat Exeter will pose. Exeter led the reigning league champions 27-16 at Welford Road with just 15 minutes left, before Leicester showed their class to score 21 unanswered points.

But Exeter's performance sounded enough alarm bells in the Leicester camp to put them on full alert for this weekend's testing assignment and Cockerill said: "We are in good shape and in pretty good form, but we know it will be a tough afternoon there."

He added: "The game is sold out in advance, and these are the kind of games and days they (Exeter) wanted to be involved in when they got promoted.

"Exeter kept together the core of their team from last year, and (head coach) Rob Baxter is doing a great job.

"At Welford Road they played really well against us. They could have won it and were unlucky to go home with nothing in the end. We have nothing but respect for them.

"Everybody talks about momentum, but we just talk about the next game and trying to get points out of it. We have to get something, because every point will count."

Exeter, after collecting five wins from 10 games, are just seven points adrift of the title play-off places, but head coach Rob Baxter knows his players cannot get ahead of themselves.

"We've got to be very realistic and honest with ourselves," he said. "We have won some home games and an important away game (at Saracens). However, the games that had to be won we've won at home.

"It's going to be a very interesting second half of the season, but as long as we stay true to what we've been trying to do - which is to get better and not get dragged into worrying where the next league points are coming from - I think we will be fine."


From Belfast Telegraph