No blame game on Simmonds - Baxter

simmo ridley.jpg
A stunned Joe Simmonds can only watch on as referee Christophe Ridley blows the final whistle during last weekend's clash with Northampton Saints at Sandy Park. Picture: PPAUK

By Mark Stevens

Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter insists he has no concerns over Joe Simmonds being affected by the controversial end to his side's home game with Northampton Saints last weekend.

With just over a minute remaining at Sandy Park, the defending champions stole over for a second try, pulling them to within a point of their rivals in their Round 10 Gallagher Premiership clash.

Sam Skinner's touchdown meant that should the Chiefs add the conversion, they would be able to snatch a last-gasp victory.

Replacement Simmonds had not long been on the pitch, but as he sized up his shot at the target, a flurry of Saints players charged towards the Exeter playmaker, eventually hacking the ball off his kicking tee and into touch.

Referee Christophe Ridley said the actions of the Saints were perfectly legal and that Simmonds had begun his kicking process, sparking the chase by the visitors towards him as he kicked.

It meant that not only did Simmonds not even attempt his testing kick at goal, but the Chiefs went down 13-12, ending a three-game winning streak for the Devonians.

Post-game Baxter admitted he had no issue with the decision of Ridley nor the charge of the Saints - and when asked today was quick to insist he had no problem with the action of Simmonds either.

"His history to date says he takes things, wins and losses, in his stride and he continually looks to improve and drive the team," said Baxter. "There's no reason for me to have any worries about Simmo going forwards.

"He's been fine in training, he was on his toes jumping about. The one thing he knows is we have no problems about it, it was a genuine mistake.

"When you stop and think about it, it's never the worst time for someone to learn something; he's done it, it's not a big deal. I think he knows why he did it, I think he felt he hadn't quite set himself initially in the right place and then made a small adjustment, and it's something that he'll make sure he doesn't do again.

"It would have been an incredible kick if he'd have got it over. Of all the mistakes that we made in that the game the smallest of the mistakes we made was Joe at the end, all the big mistakes came all the way through the game."

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