Exeter Chiefs captain Tom Hayes says he and his team-mates are aware of the threat London Welsh will pose when they visit Sandy Park in the Aviva Premiership tomorrow (3pm).
Promoted into the top flight for the first time following their Championship triumph over the Cornish Pirates last May, the Oxford-based Exiles have quietly gone about their business another rung up the league ladder.
With four victories to their name – including a 25-24 win against Chiefs back in September – Hayes knows the Devon club can ill afford to switch off ahead of this latest encounter.
"They are a team that certainly make life hard for their opponents," warned the Irish lock. "They are a quality side with a lot of strong points in their team as we found out earlier in the season. They know what they want to do in each game and looking at them you can see they are effective in the way they do it.
"Right now they are fighting for everything and they don't tend to lie down in games. I've no doubt they will come here with the view to making life difficult for us, so we've got to be ready to meet that challenge, as well as impose our own game on them."
In what has been a tough period of results for the Chiefs, you have to go back to early December – when London Wasps were the visitors – to note Exeter's last top-flight victory.
That said, Hayes says the mood within the camp remains upbeat ahead of this latest match and a return to home comforts could provide the necessary spark to get the Chiefs' campaign back on track.
"I won't lie, the past month has been tough for all of us, but in sport you get these periods and it's how you react that is the most important thing," added Hayes. "As a club we've never got too carried away with winning streaks, so equally we won't worry too much losing streaks. It's always been our aim to stay level-headed and not get carried away on any kind of rollercoaster of emotion.
"As I said, we're not pleased with certain elements of our game right now, but at the same time we'll stay positive in the things we're trying to achieve. We'll look to attack the next game as best we can and we'll back ourselves to ultimately come good in the long run."