VIDEO: Rob Baxter targets first Premiership win of season
Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter says there is no panic at Sandy Park as his side look to lift themselves off the bottom of the Premiership table this weekend.
The Chiefs’ heavy defeat in their opening game of the current campaign at Northampton Saints last weekend gave the Devon club the dubious honour of being in 12th place after week one.
It is a situation Baxter’s men have never encountered before after winning their last three opening games of the season since promotion in 2010.
However, a positive performance against Wasps this afternoon, in the club’s first 2013-14 game at Sandy Park, could help put Exeter back on track.
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Baxter said: “It probably feels a little more pressurised because we’ve won our first game of the season in the last few years and we’ve woken up on a Sunday to see ourselves bottom of the table.
“We don’t get too panicky if we win or lose, the thing about the Premiership is that the one thing you can guarantee is that you’ll lose some games of rugby.
“Losing at Northampton is no big disgrace. I think what we’re disappointed in is that we didn’t do ourselves justice, particularly in the first half.
“We have to improve our performance and make sure we’re better the week after. The truth is, an under-performance sometimes concentrates the minds a little bit.
“We have done that in the time we have been in the Premiership and we have to make sure we do that now.”
A rare lack of intensity has contributed to Chiefs’ downfall in recent weeks. They were also a little off their usual pace in their final pre-season game against Glasgow Warriors before the 38-11 loss at Franklin’s Gardens on the opening weekend of the Premiership season.
Baxter said: “There were a few reasons for it. I think we felt pre-season had gone pretty well and you have to be careful in that you can never just roll into a competitive game, you have to have your intensity and your mind-set right up there. I’m sure some of the players would admit that is what we probably lacked.
“We didn’t attack the game with the sort of bite that we normally would, we had some inaccurate moments when we attacked and defensively we got caught up in the hurly-burly and all of a sudden there’s a couple of tries gone past you.”
The challenge in front of them is hardly less daunting this weekend. Wasps narrowly lost to Harlequins in their first game.
However, Baxter feels he has the formula for success this weekend. He said: “Wasps are a good side and they have started very strongly, just as they did last season.
“They probably feel a little unfortunate not to have won the game against what we all know is a very good Harlequins side.
“We know how we have had success against Wasps before and I don’t think that formula has changed too much.
“We have to keep the ball better than the opposition and bring as much energy to the game as we can. That has been a lot of the emphasis for this week in training.”
Baxter gone with a similar line-up this weekend. The only change sees England Under-20 cap Sam Hill come into the centre for his first Premiership start, with Ian Whitten moving to the wing at the expense of Matt Jess.
Exeter Chiefs: Dollman; Whitten, Hill, Shoemark, James; Steenson, Thomas; Sturgess, Yeandle, Tui; Mumm (capt), Welch; Johnson, Scaysbrook, Ewers. Replacements: Whitehead, Moon, Mitchell, Hayes, White, Lewis, Slade, Jess.