Baxter hails battling Chiefs
September 25, 2011
Exeter's Ben White carries the ball forward against Wasps © Getty Images
Exeter head coach Rob Baxter hailed his team's work ethic after their 21-11 defeat of Aviva Premiership rivals Wasps.
The Chiefs bounced back from their defeat at Bath last weekend to go third in the table with a second half revival at Sandy Park - and set up an intriguing home match against second-placed Saracens next Saturday. Exeter trailed 6-5 at the break after a try from flanker Tom Johnson to two penalties from former Exeter fly-half Ryan Davis - but in the second half the home side took advantage of a strong wind at their backs.
"It was the hard work that we did in the first half, against that strong wind, that laid the foundations," Baxter said. "We knew that we had to grind away a little and we did that by restricting them to just six points.
"It was getting a decent try on the board that really paid dividends for us in the second half. That said we probably created quite a few scoring opportunities in the first half, got some good positions. But we fluffed a couple of lineouts and got turned over when we were five metres from their line."
Baxter has reasons to be cheerful about the future, adding: "I told the lads after the match that we are not far away from being a very good side. We have won that match but we let them off the hook a little bit in that we put in a massive physical effort and took them on at the driving game, which we said we were going to do, but we didn't really get enough out of it to really pay off.
"But we have collected another four valuable Premiership points and ultimately we have to be very pleased with that. We can now look forward to the Saracens match because we are now rolling from one challenge to another. I think there are good parts in our game that can really hold up well against Saracens."
However, Baxter has injury worries ahead of the Saracens game as wing Nic Sestaret took a heavy knock and lock Peter Short turned his ankle.
Wasps' director of rugby Dai Young said: "Although there are areas of the second half that we can be disappointed with but there were three or four clear opportunities in the first half which we didn't take. That was one of the main reasons why we lost and in the second half we didn't keep the ball long enough - because playing in to the wind you have to be very good at keeping hold of the ball.
"Exeter did that well in the first half and it produced opportunities they didn't take - and in the second half I thought Exeter played the conditions better. We put a lot of pressure on them but spilled the ball and got the ball kicked back into our 22.
"So we didn't score enough points in the first half and we were always going to be under the cosh in the second. The effort and commitment was there as was the desire but our attack was mediocre. We showed a lot of good touches, especially from deep, but we need to do the basics a bit better and the scrums are a factor that we need to keep working on."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape