SAINTS boss Jim Mallinder says every team can learn from the pride the Exeter players show in playing for their club.
The Chiefs come calling at Franklin’s Gardens this Sunday, and they will be high on confidence after a fantastic team effort saw them demolish Sale Sharks last weekend.
It was a stunning showing from the Sandy Park side whose fast offloading game was in full flow in the 43-6 victory on their own turf.
After last season’s fifth place finish, the Chiefs, who have no world renowned superstars in their ranks, look set to defy expectations once again in the Premiership this season.
And Mallinder recognises this weekend’s opposition’s success comes from a steely togetherness and a pride in playing top level rugby for the side who won promotion to the Premiership in 2010.
“They’re a very good team,” said the Saints director of rugby. “They don’t have many superstar names but they take a pride in playing for each other and their work rate is excellent.
“They really work hard for each other and know exactly what they’re all doing. They’re well coached and we have a lot of respect for them as a team.
“It (playing with pride) is essential and you see that every time those players put the shirt on. They haven’t got many massive names but all their players come in and do a job and they can change and reverse the roles different players play.
“They play to the same sort of manner, they play together and for each other. If you’ve got that, it’s a good start to getting a successful team.”
While Exeter were exciting their fans in the win against Sale, Saints were grinding out a 24-19 victory at Gloucester.
After a fine first-half showing, Saints stalled, with Gerrit-Jan van Velze and Paul Doran-Jones sin-binned in quick succession late on.
Mallinder knows it was far from the perfect performance, but was delighted with how his side coped when they were men light at the end of the game.
“It was definitely not a perfect performance but a satisfactory performance, a real good start, a good first half, some quality rugby, two really good tries,” he said.
“There were moments in the second half of good play, another good try, a couple of good little bits of defence but some poor decisions in terms of the team and that put us under pressure.
“The crowd got going when we were down to 13 men and under pressure but what did please us was that we kept our discipline, kept our shape and finally got the result.”
Kick-off at Franklin’s Gardens on Sunday is at 3pm.