herald

Thursday 23 October 2014

Angry Chiefs circle wagons

ROB BAXTER'S Exeter Chiefs have not conceded a four-try bonus-point at home to any club in the English Premiership over the course of the two-and-a-half years they have been there.

In fact, Clermont-Auvergne are the only club that has done what Leinster have to do at Sandy Park to hold any legitimate ambition to make it to the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

Perhaps, Clermont have done Leinster a favour by planting seeds of doubt into The Chiefs, making them realise that the standards of The Premiership are not quite those of the European Cup.

"There are no instant fixes in this game and there is no way I can click my fingers and we'll beat Leinster because it doesn't work like that. But, I know results in this game can turn around very quickly," reflected Baxter.

"A 40-point loss can soon become a three-point win in the space of a couple of weeks. I've seen it happen before and I've been involved in games like that.

"It's not just the players that are learning from these experiences, I am learning a lot as well. It's not just about the team we are, but it's also learning about the way other teams are coached, the way they play, the players they have."

The French giants hammered a further six nails, or tries (46-3), into Exeter's sealed coffin in Pool Five at a feverish Stade Marcel Michelin on Saturday.

"For me, there are two ways to look at it. One is to say that was tough, I did some good things and I want to improve on things or you can say that has broken me and I don't know what to do from here," he said. "I think what we have to make sure of is that we learn from it and not doubt ourselves too much because at the end of the day we are still just two-and-a-half seasons into The Premiership - and we've still not completed our first season in Heineken Cup.

"There is a reason this is the top club competition in the world. It's tough out there and every now and again you will get a result like this. I just hope that we learn from all of this and that we get better next week."

For sure, Leinster will be in for a trying time at Sandy Park. The Chiefs are no fly-by-night outfit. They have had to make their way. They have come up the hardest way.

There is a unity of purpose about their organisation that will not be denied. The image of a family club is not just bland banter.

In an early season feature about the club on Sky Sports, a montage of people and faces showed how many of the squad lives in the same housing estate beside the ground. Remarkable.

"I don't think I'll need to lift the lads after that. They are a proud bunch of players and I've no doubt they will want to prove a point," warned Baxter.

"I have no issues with any of them because I didn't see any player who didn't want to tackle, who didn't hit rucks, who didn't run or who didn't scrummage.

"It's obvious from our performance that wasn't the case. As I said, sometimes you come up against good players, good teams and you get beaten. That's life."

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