Exeter Chiefs will provide Gloucester with their toughest Kingsholm test of the season so far – and Shaun Knight believes it is about time.
The Gloucester prop reckons the Cherry and Whites will relish one of their sternest home examinations of the Aviva Premiership campaign this afternoon.
Gloucester host the regimented Chiefs as the Premiership term hits the halfway point.
The tight-head prop is confident that Nigel Davies' men have the mental and physical fortitude to win out – and he admitted he would pick this severe challenge over a cakewalk any day.
Matson-born Knight admits there is a distinction on the derby front between taking on Exeter and traditional rivals Bath and Worcester. But he also concedes not even shades of derby grey will relieve the pressure today.
The 22-year-old explained: "I guess it's a Westcountry derby, but not a traditional derby like Worcester and Bath. But this game's just as important.
"We played Leicester at home and managed to come through that with a win, and that was up there among our biggest home challenges of the season really. And now we are up against our second. Given the situation and how close we are to each other in the league, this is definitely the biggest game of the season so far."
Gearing up for a serious test against one of the most physical and committed sides in the Premiership, Knight said Gloucester are more than ready for the contest.
After back-to-back Amlin Challenge Cup victories over London Irish – including last weekend's 47-3 hammering – Knight said it is high time to get back to the business-end of the league battle.
Fifth-placed Gloucester sit one place and one point ahead of Exeter in the Premiership table. Knight admitted that whoever wins out today will set themselves up for a fruitful New Year.
The Cherry and Whites' testing Christmas double continues next weekend, with the small matter of a trip to Welford Road to take on Leicester Tigers.
Emerge in credit, said Knight, and Gloucester can start plotting all-out assault on a Premiership play-offs charge in 2013. He continued: "Exeter have got a good forward pack, they base their game literally on hard work. So we've got to work harder than them, and if we can do that then we know we'll be in with a chance, because we've got the quality of people to win this game.
"It's about time for something like this, we're ready, and we're excited. Irish away, that was a hard game but we did really well to pull it back. Top-four's on the line, if we win we'll probably go to third, and if they win they'll probably be cemented in fourth for Christmas. So there's everything to play for.
"Then we go to Leicester away a week later, and they are right up there as well. The next two Christmas games are a massive challenge. We'll be able to relax on Christmas Day, but other than that it is business, really."