Back in top four for Baxter and co

Published: Sunday 12th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Exeter head coach Rob Baxter took plenty more away from Sandy Park than the Aviva Premiership double over Northampton thanks to Sunday’s 21-10 victory.

The Chiefs moved back into the top four in the league standings while the d efeat at Sandy Park means Saints missed out on guaranteeing a place in the play-offs.

The sides were evenly matched at the break after Henry Slade had put the Chiefs in front with a penalty, but the England prospect was unable to convert Phil Dollman’s touchdown while James Wilson crossed for the Saints who trailed 8-5.

Slade added two penalties and the conversion of a penalty try in the second half while the Saints had to settle for a late consolation try from Jamie Elliott.

After the victory, Baxter said: “It was all about collecting some important league points because everyone has been saying that we have had the toughest run-in for the last five or six games – which is probably true – but that makes for some great games.

“No doubt Northampton will feel slightly different but if you look at the first half it was cat and mouse but we probably didn’t make the most of the conditions; mainly because we didn’t force that scrum pressure into being a try.

“But I think that we grew as the game went on and we did do well in the forward exchanges – there is no getting away from that – and ultimately that pressure counts for a lot.

“Defensively we did everything different that we did at Leicester a couple of weeks ago where we made it very hard for Northampton to score – there wasn’t a lot of easy penalties given up.

“They had to go through multi-phases to get anything out of us and, like in any pressure game, sometimes who have to give the opponents an opportunity to make a mistake. We were prepared to defend for long period of time, be disciplined, and that worked well.”

Exeter have three league games left, against Wasps and Saracens before hosting Sale, but before that they face Gloucester at Kingsholm in the European Challenge Cup semi-final on Saturday.

“The league positions don’t lie,” added Baxter. “Look at Northampton and that shows that they have been the consistent achievers and performers over the season. We are back in fourth place and that is probably about right.”

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder, meanwhile, thought his side lacked patience.

“There were parts of the performance that were pretty good and some of our attack was good but we just lacked patience when we got into those really good attacking areas,” he said.

“The number of times that we forced ball, off loaded to the opposition or knocked on was just too many. A lot of credit to Exeter because they defended well and they took the opportunity to score that try in the first half really well.

“They put our set piece – particularly our scrum – under some pressure. We’d talked about the quality of Exeter’s scrum before the game. You can’t under-estimate that because they are a big heavy pack.

“I think that I have still seen enough to know that we are a good side. We know exactly where were are – three games to go and six points clear – so its still in our hands and we are looking forward to the challenge.”

Published: Sunday 12th April 2015 by The News Editor

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