Rob Baxter wants a response from Exeter Chiefs against Wasps
Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter refused to get too downhearted after seeing his side blown away by Northampton Saints 38-11 in their Aviva Premiership opener on Saturday.
The Chiefs were not at the races in the first half and trailed 31-6 at the break, but bounced back well in the second period to restrict the Saints to only one more score while getting a try themselves through skipper Dean Mumm.
“It was definitely a better performance in the second half, we controlled possession and territory a lot better, so that part I was pleased with, as was the impact some of our bench players had on the game, but as a whole, it was a disappointing day,” admitted Baxter.
“I’m not overly concerned though because every year we get one or two games like this.
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“The good thing is that we tend to respond pretty well to days like this.
“It’s frustrating and disappointing, of course, but we avoid getting on emotional rollercoasters and I’ve said to the players that we are not a bad team, it’s just we’ve performed badly today.”
Baxter felt it was a game his side would benefit from before they tackle their first league fixture on Sandy Park soil on Saturday with the visit of London Wasps, who lost 16-15 to Harlequins at Twickenham in their opener, with new signing Andy Goode seeing a last-gasp conversion attempt to win the match bounce back off an upright.
“It feels like it was a bit of an end-of-pre-season blow-out that we really needed, and if I am honest, I’m glad it has come this week away to Northampton and has not happened in a home game,” said Baxter.
“We needed a good, tough, gritty work-out today, and Northampton delivered that to us in spades.
“I think it will be a good thing for us, and I think we will be a better side this week in training for it, and a more focused side, not that we haven’t trained well. We have had a good pre-season, but this will help focus our minds.
“We will regroup on Monday and look at things we need to improve on. Yes, we’ve got a tough start to the season, but the Premiership is like that.
“What the boys have to do now is knuckle down, not feel sorry for themselves, and realise that if you work hard and do things with conviction, we’re not a bad side.
“We need to make sure next Saturday is about us and that we get what we deserve out of the game, but we will have to do a lot better than we did today to deserve anything.”
Baxter gave a start to 22-year-old Dave Ewers at number eight, and brought 20-year-olds Henry Slade and Sam Hill off the bench in the second half, and he was impressed with the youngsters’ contributions.
“It was great to see Sam and Henry out there and I thought they both performed very well,” said Baxter.
“Sam had a couple of really good ball carries, and made a good break and an offload, and there was a little bit of sparkle from him out there.
“Henry did very well. He is a young guy with a bright future, and I thought Dave Ewers in particular did very well.
“He stood up and said ‘I’m going to carry and I’m going to knock people over’, and he probably showed a few of the more experienced boys the way to go.
“There might be some of his actions that I show to a few of the other forwards about the individual commitment you have got to give to the cause.”
The Chiefs have asked match citing officer Tony Lanaway to look at an incident involving Saints’ England flanker Tom Wood that left winger Tom James needing treatment.