Rob Baxter is pleased with perfect Chiefs' response
EXETER CHIEFS delivered the perfect riposte, following last weekend's 21-9 home defeat against Leicester, as they powered to an impressive 29-12 Premiership victory over Gloucester at Kingsholm.
Their first-half performance against the Tigers came under considerable criticism inside and outside the camp, and head coach Rob Baxter was pleased with the response.
"The challenge for us was to bring our second-half performance against Leicester last weekend into this weekend's game, and that's what we did," he said. "Out attitude was absolutely fantastic.
"It is all about attitude. If you get the attitude right, you can be a handful against any team.
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"We started the Leicester game a little bit afraid to take them on because we didn't know whether or not it might put us under more pressure than clearing the ball long against them, whereas today when we made mistakes it was at the end of trying to do something.
"Mistakes will happen, you can live with that, but if you don't fire any shots then you have got to question what you are trying to do. We kept our composure and played a lot of good rugby.
"We had a platform across the team that allowed everyone to play. We didn't create that against Leicester last week. There were some notable performances from the guys.
"If you play hard and play fast, you will always have an opportunity to be in the game. A lot came off for us today, and massive credit to the players."
Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson's 19-point haul after missing three of his first four shots at goal ultimately made the difference in a one-sided encounter.
Although the try-count finished 2-2 – forwards Ben White and Dean Mumm scored for the visitors, while Martyn Thomas and Jonny May claimed Gloucester's touchdowns – Exeter dominated throughout. It was in the forward battle that their control was graphically underlined, where players like Mumm, No.8 Dave Ewers and hooker Chris Whitehead excelled, and home director of rugby Nigel Davies admitted there was no real hiding place for a battered Gloucester pack.
"As a pack of forwards, they will be disappointed, and I am disappointed with the way they performed," he said.
"They were probably out-muscled in most facets, and that unity of the pack needs to come to the fore in the next couple of weeks. The pack will put its hand up and say they weren't good enough and that they were off the pace.
"It hasn't consistently happened, and I expect a reaction. We've got to man-up, front-up, particularly in that area," the Gloucester boss added. "Exeter are very good when they have got the ball.
"They had quick ball and front-foot ball for large periods, and they put us under huge stress. Consequently, they controlled the game."
Gloucester, despite the boost of by successive victories over Northampton and Newcastle, saw their bubble burst by a Chiefs outfit quicker in thought and deed.
"It is very difficult to take, but credit to Exeter, I thought they were fantastic," Davies admitted. "It was probably one of the most complete performances I've seen against us since I have been involved here.
"They put us under huge pressure, and we couldn't really deal with that pressure. When we did get the opportunities, we spilled the ball in the first couple of phases."