AGGRESSIVE defence will be the route to 'make-or-break' Exeter Chiefs victory, believes Rob Cook.
The Gloucester full-back has backed the Cherry and Whites to end 2012 on a high, and set up a silverware assault for the second half of the season.
Nigel Davies' men host the Chiefs at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick-off 3pm), where a victory could edge some daylight between the two teams in the Premiership table.
Gloucester sit fifth with Exeter one place and one point behind.
Former Cornish Pirate Cook reckons Gloucester's dogged defence has been at the centre of all their strong results so far this term.
And he knows the Kingsholm men must produce a similarly-muscular showing to see off gritty Exeter this weekend.
The 28-year-old explained: "Things are looking okay for us but we've achieved nothing yet.
"This is a massive game, make or break really, fifth versus sixth.
"If a few results go our way we could be really flying.
"But we're not getting ahead of ourselves, we've got our heads screwed on and we know what we've got to do.
"We don't look too far ahead, we've got good momentum now, but I think the basis of everything still has to be the defence.
"It was nice to stop them score a try, and that was probably the biggest plus, they are a dangerous attacking side and they didn't look like they could get through, and that's a real boost.
"You start your game from the defence, and Paul Moriarty has been doing a lot of work with us on that and it's looking pretty solid.
"Looking from the back you can trust boys to make their tackles, and that makes it so much easier for everyone else."
Pleased with his score in Gloucester's six-try 47-3 London Irish hammering on Saturday, Cook said Davies' men must continue to attack with that same level of fluency.
He continued: "The way they play, it's going to be unforgiving and pretty aggressive, but we've shown that we're not just a forward-orientated side now, and we've got to keep capitalising on that.
"We've shown we can play, we've got some exciting runners in the backs, and we've got to keep exploiting that.
"I know a few of the boys from my time down there so I know a bit about their threats.
"Fair play to them, they have shown what the Championship can produce.
"They are now a solid Premiership side; they qualified for the Heineken Cup and are going well overall.
"It's going to be a big game and hopefully the home support will be strong again, and a victory would be a nice little Christmas present.
"It was great to score against Irish, I knew I could have a go when I took the kick, but I was in my half so I didn't expect what happened, I just had a crack at it.
"And then it just opened up, which is what you want really.
"It's always nice to score a try, however it comes, so it was great to get on the score sheet.
"But it all comes down to hard work from the forwards to create these opportunities.
"We knew they could come firing at us, but we knew if we could get a couple of scores then we could do that.
"And that's a great result that now we've got to build on."