Baxter wants Chiefs to capitalise on Heineken Cup chance
Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter is keen for his side to capitalise on their impressive start to the Heineken Cup this season.
The Devon club took five points from their opening Pool Two game against Cardiff Blues last weekend and will approach Sunday’s game at Glasgow Warriors with confidence.
Baxter said: “The challenge for us now is to understand that the Cardiff performance and the five points we got from that game have made this weekend’s game a very big game for us.
“It has put us in with a shout of really pushing through in the Heineken Cup because once you have one win in that first round, another decent performance in the second will give you a decent collection of points moving into the next phase of the competition.
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“What I am hoping for from us is that we don’t go into our shells and that we don’t go up there and be afraid of losing because things are going OK.
“Instead, let’s maintain what we are doing now, which is going out there to win games of rugby. All the time I say to the guys let’s enjoy it and play to win, because when we are like that we are a good side and that has to be our key driver this weekend.”
The first-half performance against the Blues, in particular, showed Baxter’s men playing to their full potential. He believes that focusing on doing the right things, minute by minute, is the key, rather than worrying about the final result.
“It’s about how we want to play,” said Baxter. “When we do that, the rest of it looks after itself.
“When we get a bit focused on what we want to get out of the end of the game, as we did against Leicester, we lose our way a little bit.
“When we focus on what’s going to happen in the first second of the game and everyone’s role in how we want to play, we look a decent side.
“We don’t need to be reactive in any way, we drive things ourselves with the ambition we have. We are an ambitious club and an ambitious team, but I think what we have done in the last couple of weeks is remember the fundamentals about why we play and what we want to do and achieve.
“That’s all we have done, we’ve just gone back to sorting the little details and attitude of what we want to see and in turn the results have spoken for themselves.”
RaboDirect side Warriors opened their Heineken Cup campaign with a defeat to current holders Toulon, but Baxter saw enough potential in Sunday’s opponents to be wary of the threat they pose.
He said: “We know it will be a tough game and we know there will be some reaction from them to the Toulon game because Glasgow have been going really well in the Rabo this season.
“They probably went there [to Toulon] with quite high expectations, yet they ended up experiencing one of those days where every offload and every pass that Toulon produced in the early stages seemed to come off.”
Baxter has made some alterations to his line-up this weekend. Prop Ben Moon comes in for his first start at loosehead in place of Brett Sturgess.
Centre Sam Hill returns in the midfield to partner Jason Shoemark – which means Ian Whitten is shunted back on to the wing with Fetu’u Vainikolo dropping to the bench.
The Tongan wing will be joined as a replacement by prop Alex Brown, who comes in for the injured Carl Rimmer.
Exeter Chiefs: Dollman; Whitten, Shoemark, Hill, Jess; Steenson, Lewis; Moon, Whitehead, Tui;, Mumm (capt), Welch; Johnson, White, Ewers. Replacements: Yeandle,Sturgess, Brown, Armand, Horstmann, Thomas, Slade, Vainikolo.