Familiar faces seek to mastermind Saints' downfall as Exeter come calling

A couple of familiar faces will be seeking to mastermind Saints' downfall at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens on Sunday.
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Ehren Painter, a Saints Academy product, and Ross McMillan, a member of their 2013/14 double-winning side, are both in the Exeter Chiefs camp.

Prop Painter has impressed since switching to Sandy Park back in March, while McMillan is drawing plenty of praise for his role as the Chiefs 'scrum doctor'.

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Exeter have impressed in all areas of the game so far this season, using their powerful pack to lay a platform for some exciting young backs.

Ehren Painter has made a strong start to life at Exeter (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Ehren Painter has made a strong start to life at Exeter (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Ehren Painter has made a strong start to life at Exeter (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

It has resulted in three home wins from as many matches, with demolition jobs done on last season's Premiership finalists, Saracens and Sale Sharks, before Bristol Bears were beaten 29-20 at Sandy Park last Sunday.

Those three bonus-point successes sandwiched a rare defeat, away to Harlequins, and Exeter now sit proudly at the top of the embryonic Premiership table.

Painter, who scored last weekend, and coach McMillan, who moved to the Chiefs after being left out of work by London Irish's sad demise, are key figures.

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And Saints boss Phil Dowson knows both men well, having coached Painter and played alongside former hooker McMillan.

"Ehren's done very well," Dowson said.

"His scrummaging has always been his forte but you also see him being used in the pick and go game so he's got a couple of tries already.

"It's been a great move for him personally and it's great to see him doing so well."

On McMillan, Dowson said: "I was delighted for Ross because I had a few conversations with him when Irish sadly went under.

"He was obviously looking for jobs so we chatted.

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"He's a top man so I know him from his time here on and off the pitch.

"He's very competitive, he knows his stuff and from what I gather talking to the London Irish boys, he's very passionate and technically astute in terms of that scrum so that's clearly where Exeter have gone to as well."

On Exeter’s strong start to the season, Dowson said: “They're doing very well.

“They're really engaged in what they're trying to do.

"Rob Baxter is a fantastic coach and he's got them on the front foot in pretty much every facet of the game.

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“They've got a young group but they've got some stalwarts in there with Vermeulen and Slade, and Skinner has obviously played a lot of games as well.

“He's brought guys through, Cairns at nine is a handful, Roots, the back rower, looking really powerful, really strong and they've won three out of four.”

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