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06

MAY

Captain Hayes happy to be at home
Chiefs' captain Tom Hayes is glad his team is playing at home this weekend as Exeter continue to prepare the most important game in the club's history so far.

With a place in the final at stake and with the ultimate prize of a place in the Guinness Premiership just three games away, Hayes is keen to make the most of Chiefs' home advantage against Bedford Blues this Saturday (KO 3pm).

The Irishman said: "I am hoping for a good event on Saturday. The atmosphere for the play-off matches has been unbelievable; it has been just brilliant. If we can keep the crowd on our side, it should make for a great day."

But it's not just about whose supporters can shout the loudest... unfortunately! This is a game where only a win will do and bonus points are not a necessity. This kind of rugby suits Bedford's strengths in that the Blues are known for reacting well to cup final-type situations.

Hayes said: "The semi changes things in that it is essentially a cup fixture. There are no bonus points to be chased. But we will not change our philosophy. We want to play for the win and be confident in our ability to do that.

"It has been the same preparation as in any other week. Everybody is really focussed in training and it has been a good training week for us. That will set us up for a good performance on Saturday.

"Bedford have always been a high quality team. They are always one of the top three or four and have got fellas who have been involved in Premierships academies or have played in the Premiership; so they have an awful lot of skill and confidence. It would only take us to go to sleep for a split second and they would punish us. They are a team you have to be fully alert against."

Chiefs spent some of yesterday's training session practising place kicks as in the event of a draw, there would be 10 minutes of extra time each way, and if the scores were still drawn after 20 minutes, there would be a place kick competition with three players selected from the remaining members of each squad still on the pitch. If the scores remained level after all six players had taken their kicks, the place kicking competition would move into a sudden death scenario.

The winner's of Saturday's game will play the winners of Friday night's match between Bristol and London Welsh, which will be shown live on Sky Sports 4 (KO 7.45pm).

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