Dorian West says he has been really pleased with Saints’ reaction to the shock defeat at London Irish.
The men from Franklin’s Gardens were beaten 25-23 at the Madejski Stadium on Boxing Day, with a late penalty try and Shane Geraghty conversion consigning them to defeat.
That result means Saints currently sit fifth in the Aviva Premiership, six points adrift of fourth-placed Harlequins.
And West expects that situation to improve in the coming weeks as his men prepare to face Exeter at the Gardens on New Year’s Day.
“We’re really pleased with what’s happened (since the Irish defeat),” West said.
“We’ve come in for a lot of criticism from outside, which you always get when things aren’t quite going well, but we’ve sat back and we know there are things we need to be better at.
“We look at the table, we’re still in with a chance of qualifying in Europe, we’re fifth in the Premiership having not played very well.
“There’s teams in a lot worse positions than us who you would also expect to be in the top two so we’ll see what happens.”
Exeter did the double over Saints last season and Rob Baxter’s side have been in fine form during this campaign, winning six of their seven Premiership games so far.
They currently sit second in the league and West knows his team must be at their best to see off the Chiefs.
“They beat us home and away last year,” he said.
“They did play us during the Six Nations, which is never ideal because you’re missing a few players, but they did deservedly beat us here and at their place.
“We know we’re in for a tough game and we’ve prepared that way.
“We’re really hopeful and we’re anticipating a big performance from our forwards this week.
“They’re obviously a big, powerful pack and they play some good rugby so we’re expecting a big challenge this week.
“We’ve worked hard and hopefully we’ve covered everything we needed to.
“They’ve been in the mix for the past two or three years and they’re getting stronger and stronger.
“They’re playing well, they’re winning games and we need to be at our best against them at the weekend.”
Exeter have acquired the likes of Leicester Tigers trio Geoff Parling, Julian Salvi and Thomas Waldrom over recent seasons, bringing a winning mentality to Sandy Park.
And West said: “That can only help them.
“They’re a good side and we know that discipline is a big thing for us this week.
“We got back into the game last week and should have finished them off, but our discipline was poor, we made a few mistakes and we let them score at the end.
“Across the board, we need to be better.”