Rob Baxter hails impact of Gareth Steenson in Exeter Chiefs win
Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter acknowledged the importance of Gareth Steenson after another superb goalkicking display from the fly-half took him past 1,000 league points for the club.
The Irishman was in typically impressive form with his boot with a 19-point haul in the 29-23 victory at London Irish.
He kicked two conversions and five penalties, and has only missed one from 16 attempts at goal this season, leaving him as the Aviva Premiership’s top percentage goalkicker.
“You look at the scoreboard, and you suddenly realise it is that accumulation of points that he is making as he is knocking those kicks over that really does make the difference,” said Baxter.
NEW FROM SYMPLY - a wet dog food in a tray freshly steamed with real meat and veg you can see minimum of 68% meat content up to 72% in the adult trays.
Terms: Come and try tray at introductory price of £1
Contact: 01271 440626
Valid until: Friday, January 31 2014
“We were 11 points behind at one stage, but it is those kicks that keep you in touch, and when you get the opportunity to score some tries, you are within striking distance.
“He has been doing a fantastic job for us like that.
“He is one of our guys who will be getting better just from playing again at the start of this season.
“As a fly-half, you want lots of game minutes, and he still looks a little bit rusty in some ways, and we are expecting most of our guys to keep getting better and keep improving, and keep pushing us forward.
“I am really confident we are going to get noticeably better from where we are now. We have not peaked by any means.
“If you want to be a team that is good in the Premiership, you have to be at your best in the final third of the season, and I still think we are definitely on target for that.”
Baxter picked out several other players who helped the Chiefs to their second win of the season.
“Ben White came in for us and had a really good game and scored a very important try for us, and worked very hard,” said Baxter. “Phil Dollman, who has stepped in for Luke (Arscott) in the last few weeks, did some really, really good things for us.
“Tactically, some of his kicking really turned the screw on Irish, and some of his kicks were defining moments for us in what they led to.
“Dave Lewis added a bit of control at the end in an important period of the game for us, and the front row replacements came on and did exactly what we wanted them to do as we turned the screw, and it was an important win for us.”
Dave Ewers and Craig Mitchell both missed Saturday’s game, and Mitchell is facing a lengthy lay-off for the second successive season after picking up a bad injury in last Monday night’s Aviva Premiership A League game against Wasps.
“Mitch is looking a pretty long-term injury,” explained Baxter. “We haven’t finalised the exact issue with him yet, but he is likely to require an operation on his shoulder/pec area – an injury very similar to what he did playing for us at London Welsh last year at a similar stage of the season.
“His absence is likely to be quite lengthy, but we are hopeful Dave (tweaked hamstring) will be available next weekend.”
Baxter says he has no plans at the moment to make any additions to his front row to replace Mitchell.
“As long as Hoani Tui and Carl Rimmer stay fit, we had Alex Brown travel with us to Irish and Lloyd Fairbrother will be coming back from injury at some stage, so we have just got to knuckle down at the minute and get on with things,” he said.