Exeter Chiefs wing Matt Jess says his side will approach their Heineken Cup trip to Clermont Auvergne with no fear, despite their disappointing form in recent weeks.
The Devon club have lost two and drawn one of their last three Aviva Premiership games against some of their rivals for a top-four finish – Gloucester, Bath and Northampton Saints. Those results left Chiefs in seventh place, six points adrift of Wasps, now in fourth.
Exeter must wait until February 8 to make up the ground as two rounds of the Heineken Cup – against Clermont and Leinster – are followed by LV= Cup fixtures with Bath and the Saints.
Jess, who scored all of his four tries in the Premiership this season in September, admitted the Chiefs were frustrated after their 30-19 loss to the Saints at the weekend.
"There are no doubts about where we want to be as a team and a squad," he said. "The coaches have always said we are an ambitious team and we want to be as far up the table as possible.
"We finished well last year and we want to make that step and try to challenge those top four sides. It was frustrating not to come away from the game against Saints without anything. Every time we crept back into the game, they piled pressure on to us by getting further ahead again.
"We try not to dwell on things and we will attack every game as it comes. The last couple of weeks have not gone our way and we were not quite good enough – Saints beat us at the breakdown and we lost our own ball.
"There were a few mistakes and we need to up our accuracy a little bit. We have done a lot of good, but we have to keep battering that in for the full 80 minutes to get across the whitewash."
Jess feels the Chiefs need only adjust and amend their game-plan, rather than rewrite it from scratch for the matches with Clermont and Leinster. But he expects decent progress to be made before their return to Premiership action.
"It is a change of competition now and we go to Clermont now, who are a great side and then Leinster at home – those are two games that are not going to be easy at all," he said.
"We will stay positive and that is one of the best things about this team.
"The break in competition allows us to focus on something different. We can go to Clermont and attack it as much as we can. We make no bones about it, we are going to try and win the game. Again, with Leinster, we will go out and try and win the game. If we go out half-heartedly, the games will slip past us."