Exeter Chiefs 43-6 Sale Sharks, Sandy Park
Baxter thrilled with opening victory
September 2, 2012
Sale's Richie Gray gets to grips with Jason Shoemark © Getty Images
Exeter coach Rob Baxter was in celebratory mood after his side routed Sale Sharks 43-6 to get their Aviva Premiership campaign underway.
The Chiefs ran six tries past Bryan Redpath's new-look Sharks, who handed debuts to Scotland lock Richie Gray and former England fly-half Danny Cipriani.
"As a coach getting that first result brings a bit of relief as we all start on no points," Baxter said. "We had a nice finish to last season where we were comfortable and we could get after games.
"We have kind of taken off in the same manner, which is really pleasing, but the scoreline probably doesn't show that the game was massively competitive for very long periods.
"We were just shading enough of them to give us momentum and once you get a couple of scores up and team have to start coming back at you, the game shape changes.
"As it opened up we managed to exploit some opportunities but great credit to our players who had to work extremely hard for a long time to make these cracks appear.
"We have said to the guys to be as competitive as we can, in every area of the pitch, and the little bits will add up. We were good in a lot of little areas - our lineout was competitive on their ball, our scrum was competitive on both put-ins; our breakdown work was good - there was lots of little things that put pressure on Sale and kept the pressure off us."
Baxter was pleased to see his side edge Sale in key areas of the game, with Ignacio Mieres bagging a try and three penalties to open up 14-3 lead at the end of a competitive first-half.
"Coming in at half-time we were far from comfortable - we knocked over a penalty just before break which opened up a little bit of breathing space," he said.
"But the game was still there for someone to take hold of and what we did after half time was to take hold of it. The single most pleasing things was the guys being so competitive in so many areas of the game."
Redpath was quick to admit his disappointment at Sale's effort - which was only good enough for a fifth consecutive defeat to Exeter.
"Any team that does that isn't going to win or come close. To play any team in the Premiership that [the performance] wouldn't have been good enough so there is no hiding place for it," he said.
"It wasn't the game plan not been heeded but individual errors and our detail was poor so we never got to our game plan because there were 10 set pieces that we gave away and they scored on three them.
"There were too many individual errors across the board from lots of people and we all have to take it on board and take the criticism that comes. Quite rightly it deserves to come.
"We have Saracens next Saturday and we can't forget this game nor can we dwell on it. We have to man up and take the criticism and show a good performance next weekend which has to be a lot better than this."
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