Baxter delighted with Chiefs performance

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter admitted he was “immensely proud” of his team after they briefly moved back into the top four of the Aviva Premiership with a hard-fought 15-12 win at London Wasps.

Shortly after the Chiefs had secured fourth place on the Premiership Rugby table Leicester Tigers ended Saracens unbeaten run atr home which dropped the Chiefs down to fifth.

Argentinian fly-half Ignacio Mieres outgunned opposite number Nicky Robinson in the kicking duel, landing five penalties in total to ensure the Devon club of their eighth league win of the season.

The victory – a third this term against Wasps in all competitions – came just a week after the Chiefs had completed another league double, this time against nine-time champions Leicester Tigers at Sandy Park.

And whereas that win was somewhat comfortable come the close, this latest success was a much tighter affair and the visitors had to dig deep into their defensive reserves during a frantic last five minutes.

“I think when we turned up we knew it was going to be a tough game,” said Baxter at the final whistle. “The reality is Wasps are fighting for their lives at the moment and I don’t care what anyone says, that often brings out a lot of good qualities in a team. I think today it brought a lot of good qualities out in them because they worked hard; they chased kicks; they tackled and a lot of the things they forced on us they did through creating pressure.

“In the end we had to hang in there for those final few minutes, but we did, and I am delighted that we’ve got another result.

“Ideally I would have liked it to be more comfortable,” added Baxter. “There were a couple of times in the game when we did get comfortable, but didn’t quite see things off. We can look at that over the next week and work on a few things. Also I am a little bit mystified at what happened in the scrums second half, but again we’ll have a good look.

“Overall, we said to the guys before the game that it may turn into a dogfight – and that’s exactly what it was – but we’ve come through it and I am immensely proud of all of them. For us it’s another Premiership win for us, which is good, but it’s also an away win which makes it even better. Doubling up wins over Leicester last week and now Wasps this week, has made it a great couple of weeks for us.”

With the Chiefs riding high in the top four, this latest loss for Wasps, coupled with only a third win of the season for Newcastle Falcons over London Irish, means the battle at the foot of the Premiership table is beginning to intensify.

Indeed, Baxter was quick to shrug off suggestions that his side had once again overcome weakened opposition. He said: “They still had more England and other internationals in their side today than we have got and people need to remember that sometimes. We heard people saying before the game that Exeter are going to a depleted Wasps side and all this type of stuff, but in reality how many international caps were there on the two teams?

“I know where the majority were – they were on the Wasps side – so we’re pleased with how we’ve done and where we are right now.”

With two wins already accrued in this block of four Premiership fixtures, the Chiefs will head into next week’s home tussle with Bath – a side they have yet to overcome in the top flight – full of confidence and looking to end their unhappy statistic against their local rivals.

Baxter continued: “Games like Bath next week, I kind of like those types of games because they look after themselves a little bit. The players we know will be very motivated for the game because it’s a local derby, plus we’ve got a few former Bath boys in the squad who have yet to experience beating them. For us it’s another challenge we’ve got to try and knock off as we move along, but as I said it’s a game we are all really looking forward too.”

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