Gloucester Rugby: Tom Savage ahead of Exeter Chiefs game
ROBUST Exeter Chiefs' Premiership potency is built on fortifications ground in granite – but do not let that fool you, warns Tom Savage.
The Gloucester skipper has been at pains to remind his colleagues this week just how threatening the Chiefs can be when they turn to their attacking instincts.
Rob Baxter's gritty side bulldozed their way to top-flight solidity after their 2010 promotion.
But now Kingsholm captain Savage believes the Devonians are so much more than a bunch of tight-knit tight-game merchants.
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Back-five forward Savage knows full well Exeter will produce a physical onslaught not for the faint of heart at Kingsholm on Sunday (kick-off 2pm).
So the 24-year-old has challenged Gloucester to match that might, but also keep pace with the high-tempo rhythm Baxter's developing side love to hit as games progress and open up.
Savage explained: "Anyone who views Exeter as just a group of hard workers is selling them massively short.
"They're very much the same as us, they want to go out there and outwork teams.
"And they really have a great work ethic.
"Their ethos stands them apart from a lot of teams, and so the first great challenge against Exeter is to go out there and match that.
"To get any sort of result against Exeter you have to at least match their heart, desire and intensity, and that ability to just keep going at sides.
"But that's only the first of many challenges that you face against the Chiefs. They will cut you apart in attack if you let them, and they love to move the ball around and play with width.
"They are regimented but they can be so much more too.
"They're prepared to run it from their own 22, they play great heads-up rugby.
"They are smart rugby players and they can adapt to that.
"You don't know which Exeter is going to rock up on the day – but in all likelihood you get both.
"They can adjust just like that. They are a very good side and we're going to have to adapt quickly to whatever they throw at us."
Shropshire-raised Savage believes it is time Gloucester sharpened their finishing knives after two-straight Premiership victories where Nigel Davies' men have left a host of chances unconverted.
Slender league wins over Northampton and Newcastle have edged Gloucester up to seventh in the embryonic Premiership table after four rounds.
Now the former Hartpury RFC captain wants the Cherry and Whites to complete their first batch of league fixtures in winning fashion, before they switch focus to the Heineken Cup.
Savage continued: "It's a massive plus we're creating opportunities, it shows we've got the skills, the talent and the ability to pull teams apart. But now we've got to sharpen up our finishing, that's for sure.
"The challenge now is how we build on our last two wins and carry that into the rest of the season. We've got to be hard on ourselves for our handling and our finishing up at Newcastle, and against Northampton too, because it should be better to be fair.
"We've been strong in terms of structure and shape, but now we've got to raise our levels in terms of finishing and really add another dimension of sharpness."