Francis Saili says Harlequins have momentum going into Saturday’s clash with league-leaders Exeter Chiefs despite their Challenge Cup semi-final defeat to Clermont.

After being 32-8 down at half-time, a spirited second half display from Quins was not enough to stage a memorable comeback against the French giants as they lost by just five points.

Despite not quite getting the job done Salli believes they can take a lot from their performance as they travel to Exeter – who are nine points clear at the top of The Gallagher Premiership.

“We can take a lot of confidence from fighting our way back,” reflected the All Black.

“If we had had five more minutes then who knows?

“We didn’t panic at 32-8. We knew we had to fix a couple of things if we were to fight our way back into the game.

“We are proud of the way we recovered but it wasn’t the result we wanted.”

Paul Gustard’s men ended Chiefs’ unbeaten start to the season in November’s reverse fixture in a thrilling 28-26 victory and Saili thinks this will give his team belief they can do the same again.

“We played against them in November and are proud of that performance,” said the centre.

“That was a big performance by us and it’s going to take a lot of belief and fight if we are to beat them again.”

Saili is not underestimating the challenge they face, however, and knows Chiefs’ shock to defeat to Wasps in the last round means they will be determined to bounce back.

“We can take learnings from that win but they are going to be firing,” admitted the 28-year-old.

“Going up against Exeter, the table-toppers, it’s not going to be easy.

“They lost to Wasps so will be coming out all guns blazing – we need to make sure we are focused.

“It’s all to play for and that’s the challenge. That’s what’s exciting about our sport.

“We are in fourth place – teams are trying to catch us and we are trying to catch teams above us.

“We are excited but must use that energy and turn it into good performances."

By Cian Cheesbrough