Following a strong win over Gloucester at Kingsholm, Exter Chief’s director of rugby Rob Baxter, is not ‘getting carried away’ with the win.
The Chiefs leader was delighted with the outcome, yet he insists it could well hinge on other Heineken Champions Cup results for their European survival. Rob Baxter also broke some bad news in the injury department, during the post-game press conference.
Robert Rees reports for Last Word on Rugby in the 2018/19 Heineken Champions Cup.
Rob Baxter not carried away with Bonus Point victory
Despite his side picking up a bonus point in their strong 17-29 victory over Gloucester, Baxter was insistent that he isn’t ‘getting carried away’ with European survival quite yet,
“I’m still thinking about how much of a funny game rugby can be with pressure flipping from one side to another and it can lead to strange things happening in the game. At this stage, those five points give us real value in the Castres home game which is fantastic for us as a team to prepare for and obviously fantastic for supporters because they can come and there’s a glimmer.
“If we can go to Munster with something to play for then it’s almost like you’ve qualified for the last 16 and are fighting for last 8, that’s kind of what it’s like. That would be a fantastic thing for us to look forward to if we can get there, but for now we just have to accept a few lessons that probably was something dripping into our performances for several weeks.”
Slack performances ‘partly my fault’ says Baxter
With two losses in recent weeks heading into today, Rob Baxter explained how performances had been slacking in the recent month or so. He talked of how training and pressure within the team has affected, that saying “when you’ve won every Premiership game and drawn against Munster and only lost by four points away to the French champions then it’s easy to not want to overreact to things,
“But in hindsight when we’ve sat down and talked about things this week that have dripped away from our focus and the interesting thing is we’re talking about two things – I’m not going to say what they are – it wasn’t our scrum, lineout, pick and go and it wasn’t our maul.”
”There is never one answer to any one thing, but if you get two or three things right then the basic fundamentals stand out in your game. That’s what happened tonight.”
In terms of how the Chiefs are progressing at this stage of the season, Baxter remarked, “I don’t know whether we’ve stopped it but we’ve talked about it and we’ve addressed it so we can use it as a driving force for the rest of the season. That’s the key and we’ll move on.
“We’re not talking about us being a dominant force in Europe, nothing flips that quickly. What we’ve got to do is enjoy tonight as sometimes if you put pressure on yourselves and I’ll hold my hand up as I’ve put some pressure on the team to do better in the Heineken cup. Something you forget to do is enjoy yourself.
“I know we’ve got a big game next week against Saracens but take a breath and remember why we’re playing the game and why you fight together. We’ll move on from Monday.”
Injury Report: Scrumhalf out for season
There were no major injuries ‘at first sight’ from the game against Gloucester, but there was the inference of an ankle injury to Jack Maunders after the game had concluded. Rob Baxter telling reporters, “if Jack Maunders ankle is a problem that’ll cause us an issue, but all the others are just cuts and bruises.”
It’s elsewhere in the squad that the bad news lies, with some issues around losing scrum halves for at least a few weeks and even the season.
“Stu Townsend has a pretty serious knee injury which will probably see his season done. Nic White’s foot doesn’t look as bad as the last one he had, it’s more like it’s a stirring one up from before and should only be a few weeks”. Tough assessments, but in the Premiership and looking toward European Rugby competition too, the realism is that Exeter Chiefs must remain focused, and repair any gaps immediately – if they wish to continue the winning formula so far.
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— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) December 14, 2018
Plenty more European Professional Rugby Club action to come. The chase for valuable points continues, and the bonus point win by the Chiefs might prove invaluable come 2019.
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 14, 2018
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