- Chris Ashton on Exeter Chiefs ahead of play-off shoot out
- "Only got two more games and you’ve got to make them count" – England wing
Chris Ashton respects the performances of Exeter Chiefs this season and says the ruthless Devon outfit are where they deserve to be as the England wing prepares for an Aviva Premiership play-off shoot out at Sandy Park on Sunday.
The Chiefs have won six of their last seven league games – edging Northampton out of fourth place with their 31-26 victory at Worcester last week –and know defeating the Saints would guarantee a first ever semi-final spot.
Northampton sit one place and two points behind the west-countrymen and Ashton is expecting the home side to be merciless on a ground where Exeter recorded their only competitive victory over the Saints last season.
The 25-year-old said: "Exeter have been fabulous this season – to come up from the division below [the season before], get up to fourth place and play Stade Francais in the Amlin Cup. They say themselves how well they’ve done.
"I can only admire what they’ve done. They’re a ruthless kind of team at home, they’ve been tough and played well there all season.
"They excel at what they do and their coach Rob Baxter has done well to get them to where they are."
Photo: Getty Images
Ashton scored his fifth Northampton try in 12 appearances this season in the 35-21 defeat to Leicester Tigers last weekend, a result which allowed Exeter to leapfrog them in the standings.
Having agreed a move to Aviva Premiership champions Saracens for next season, the Wigan-born star is determined to leave nothing in reserve in what could be his last two games for Northampton.
He added: "These are going to be my last two games of the [regular] season so I don’t want to go out losing and not get to semi final so there is quite a lot on it.
"There isn’t anything else to play for, there isn’t any Heineken Cup so this is all we’ve got. Last weekend against Leicester was a bit of a wake-up call, you realise you’ve only got two more games and you’ve got to make them count."
And with England’s historic three-Test, five game tour to South Africa just 41 days away, Ashton will be keen to continue his try-scoring momentum with Head Coach Stuart Lancaster watching on.