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Exeter Chiefs will bid to continue fine start to Aviva Premiership season at Northampton Saints

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 06, 2012

Brett Sturgess

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Brett Sturgess has promised Exeter Chiefs fans will see a more attacking brand of rugby from their side this season, as they look to impose themselves.

The Sandy Park outfit showed their attacking intent in Saturday's club-record 43-6 win against Sale in the opening Aviva Premiership match of the campaign.

And prop Sturgess said the players will look to play in just the same way at Northampton this Sunday – at a ground they have never won at.

The Chiefs started to throw caution to the wind more at the end of last term but there were clear signs of progression against the Sharks.

While they want to score more tries, former Saint Sturgess said they will look to retain their traditional strength up front.

"We kicked on after the Leicester game last season, we wanted to become a more attacking force," he said.

"We were a team that were creating a lot of opportunities but not necessarily finishing them off. Towards the end of last season we talked about really enjoying playing and taking our opportunities and I think we carried that on during pre-season.

"You're going to see we've still got the traditional strengths that Exeter bring but we're going to bring a lot of energy and show what we're about in attack now.

"If you're an Exeter supporter, this year come down because there's going to be some exciting rugby being played. We're not going to be silly, we know there's going to be times when we're going to have to grind things out, but we're definitely going to try to play with a lot of energy."

Sturgess, whose second child, daughter Bonnie, was born on the eve of last weekend's match, knows what to expect at Northampton as he progressed through the club's academy.

As well as the challenge they face on the field from the star-studded side, the Franklin's Gardens faithful can create an intimidating atmosphere. Part of Exeter's plan on Sunday will be to silence the crowd and limit their affect.

"Northampton is a massive hotbed for rugby. They've got a passionate crowd there and that's something you have to play against," he said.

"They can get behind the team and be a big driving force so when you go to these grounds you have to quiet the crowd first. We'll try to do that from the way we play."

Sturgess is expected to pack down alongside Chris Whitehead and Craig Mitchell once again this weekend and knows the challenge they are up against. As well as England hooker and Saints skipper Dylan Hartley, the front row also contains highly-respected props Soane Tonga'uiha and Brian Mujati.

The 30-year-old is relishing the challenge of going up against such quality players.

"You only have to look at the pack and the back line – there's quality throughout the side," he said of Sunday's hosts.

"As a forward, going up against their pack is a huge challenge. Tonga'uiha, Mujati and Hartley – these are the kind of guys you want to play against and show what you're about. We're not going to go there worrying, we'll go with what we know and how we can play.

"The key thing this year is that we're going to show people what Exeter are all about. That's what people will hopefully see in the first few weeks of the season."

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