Rob Baxter is optimistic that Exeter Chiefs can half the Saracens juggernaut when the Devon club feature in their first Premiership final at Twickenham
Rob Baxter is optimistic that Exeter Chiefs can halt the Saracens juggernaut when the Devon club feature in their first Premiership final at Twickenham on Saturday.
Sarries are strong favourites to retain their title and complete a famous double a fortnight after they won the European Champions Cup by beating Racing 92 in Lyon.
It is only six years since the Chiefs were promoted to the top tier of English rugby for the first time and they are just one victory away from being crowned champions after seeing off Wasps in the semi-final at fortress Sandy Park last weekend.
Sarries have won their last nine games in all competitions, but Exeter head coach Baxter believes his side can cause Mark McCall's powerful outfit problems if they play to their best.
"I don't think we will be a team who will just be going there to walk around Twickenham in the sun." Baxter. "We are going to turn up and, I know, if we turn up we will make it a very interesting game.
"There is no doubt - and quite rightly so - they are being regarded as the best team in Europe and they are a much better team than when we beat them twice last season. That said, we're also a much better team now.
"I think the biggest compliment I can pay them is that they do the basics very well. On top of that they have a good team spirit, a strong work ethic and they are well coached.
"However, if you look at the last four games between us, it's 2-2, but could easily have been 3-1 to us as it was a real close game down here earlier this season.
"That says to me that we have got a lot within us to get where we need to be and hopefully we will show that at the weekend."
Mako Vunipola will make his 100th appearance for Sarries this weekend and the England prop is well aware of the threat posed by the Chiefs, who had never played in a Premiership semi-final until last weekend.
"Whichever team are able to stay together and stay on task the best and stay together as a team will probably come out on top." Vunipola said.
"They're a tightknit group, they've got some world-class players in there. We know they're going to come there looking forward to it, it's their first ever final. I remember when we played our first one we were very excited and I think they’ll come out raring to go."
McCall has named the same side which beat Leicester Tigers at the semi-final stage as Sarries eye a third Premiership title, with Charlie Hodgson named among the replacements for his final game before he retires.
Exeter also named an unchanged starting line-up, but are unable to call upon barnstorming number eight Thomas Waldron from the bench due to a knee injury.