Baxter hails his side's fighting spirit
By Mark Stevens
Rob Baxter praised his side’s desire to ‘keep going’ as Exeter Chiefs returned to winning ways in the Gallagher Premiership with a 24-20 victory over Worcester Warriors at Sixways.
Despite trailing 17-3 at one stage after the Warriors had stung their opponents with two converted tries from winger Perry Humphreys, a try on the stroke of half-time from scrum-half Jack Maunder gave the visitors the belief they needed to produce a powerful second half showing.
Former Warriors favourite Matt Kvesic claimed Exeter’s second try of the afternoon, before prop Harry Williams popped up to claim the match-winning score with just a few minutes remaining.
The victory lifted the Chiefs back up to fifth in the table and was the perfect response after they were undone at Westcountry rivals Bath the previous week.
It was little wonder that Director of Rugby Baxter was delighted with his side’s showing in the Midlands.
“From a coaching perspective, I’m delighted that we have got some reward for a lot of hard work,” he said. “The hard thing in coaching is watching a group of guys work hard - and then not get much for it. I thought today we kind of pinned our game together a lot better than last week [at Bath].”
In what was an indisciplined display at The Rec, Baxter saw signs of improvement in that department against the Warriors, but insists there are still certain issues that need to be eradicated moving forward.
“I thought the penalties we gave up, obviously they were there again today, but they were not the same type as last week,” said Baxter. “Last week our issues were over ill-discipline, whereas today it was probably down to more good work from Worcester. If you get turned over on the floor because a guy gets over the ball, we can work on how we can improve that. That’s a positive for us to work on, whereas it wasn’t like that last week when we were giving away high tackles for ill-discipline.
“If the game swung on any ill-discipline today, it swung on a couple of moments from Worcester late on in the game. Those penalties gave us some field position and it allowed us to score.”
Kvesic’s score from a five-metre line-out was key in the Exeter fightback, which was sealed when Williams was able to drift over following an energy-sapping, 32-phase attack.
“That was a good battle,” continued Baxter. “I thought Worcester were very physical and really challenged us, but I’m also delighted for the lads because they worked hard and we’ve come through really well in the end. I thought our courage to keep going and fighting to the end was fantastic and I’ve got to give the players great credit for that, because some of our ball carrying stats today will be through the roof.”
Next up for the Chiefs will be Sunday’s derby encounter with Bristol Bears at Sandy Park and Baxter is hoping his team can use this result as the launchpad to take into that fixture.
“We’ll go away now and brush ourselves down, “ he added. “Because the game is on Sunday, we’ve got a week to get ready for Bristol in what will be another hum-dinger of a fixture. The incredible thing, as far as I am concerned is, I’m not looking at any Premiership side and thinking there is some points here, there is some points there, I’mlooking around thinking we have to be very good at training on Tuesday to make sure we keep moving forward.”