Baxter challenges Chiefs to go on run
Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has challenged his side to put a run of Premiership points together as they head to London Irish this afternoon.
The Devon club earned their first top-flight win of the 2013-14 season last weekend, when they beat Wasps 30-26 at Sandy Park.
Baxter insisted there was no panic after their opening day loss at Northampton Saints the previous weekend but, equally, they will not dwell on one victory.
"The mood has been a bit better this week," said Baxter. "It was nice to get some points on the board and get the Premiership season under way properly.
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"We were pretty level-headed after the Northampton game and we have had to be the same after we've won. The reality is that we were not suddenly a terrible side and now we're not a fantastic side.
"We know what we did better against Wasps and we know what we've still got to work on. The important thing this week has been to make sure they are at the forefront of our mind going into the weekend – we can't ease off and think the hard work is done.
"We have had some good seasons in the Premiership and the best we've done at Northampton is to get a losing bonus point. The big picture is that we are a point down on last year and I think we appreciate some of the reasons why that is."
With both Chiefs and Irish having won one and lost one so far this season, the two clubs will target consistency as the campaign continues.
Baxter said: "The Premiership season is what it is and every game is important. We have to try and put runs of points together but we are aware London Irish are a very competitive side and had a very good win away from home themselves last week against Worcester.
"They will want to back it up with a good home performance and we are the other way around after winning at home ourselves. Both clubs will be feeling better about themselves compared to the previous week and it will be an interesting game."
A good start will be imperative to Chiefs today, according to Baxter. He said: "It is important for us to try and get field position and possession early in the game. We haven't had that in the first two week and we have to try and get into our game as quick as we can.
"We want to play good rugby and score tries. We don't want to get caught in too many arm wrestles with teams – the first half was a bit like that against Wasps.
"Wasps are a useful outfit and we performed pretty well, so there are some real positives. We did concede a couple of late tries and we have to improve on that and convert our chances. We have spent some time on that and have to ram that home today."
Baxter has, however, been forced to tinker with his winning side. With No.8 Dave Ewers ruled out with a hamstring problem, Tom Johnson moves over from the blind-side flank, and Ben White comes in for his first start of the season.
Kai Horstmann will fill White's seat on the bench, where Carl Rimmer replaces Craig Mitchell, who picked up a knock in Monday's A League defeat of Wasps.
Exeter Chiefs: Dollman; Whitten, Shoemark, Hill, James; Steenson, Thomas; Sturgess, Yeandle, Tui; Mumm (capt), Welch; White, Scaysbrook, Johnson. Replacements: Whitehead, Moon, Rimmer, Hayes, Horstmann, Lewis, Slade, Jess.