17th March 2014
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It is the first piece of major silverware in their 143-year history and was clinched in front of Sandy Park no less, as tries in each half from Chris Whitehead and skipper Dean Mumm proved enough in a 15-8 victory.

Baxter lifted the Chiefs’ last trophy 18 years ago – the Devon Senior Cup – and as a man who now patrols the sidelines, he insists the achievement is just reward for his players’ efforts this year.

“What really pleases me is the players getting a tangible reward for all the hard work that they have put in,” said Baxter. “I say that because they have worked extremely hard this season and it hasn’t always felt like we had a reward for all the hard work that we have put in.

“We have had some tough results against some very good sides in both the Heineken Cup and the Premiership and we’ve had some late losses and had one or two things not quite go our way. But then what happens? The last two weeks we’ve come through two very tight games and today we are LV= Cup winners, which is fantastic.”

From minute one the Devon club tore into their more illustrious rivals, setting a tone that not only shook Jim Mallinder’s men out of their stride, but at the same time helped lay the platform for the club’s success.

Whitehead and Mumm both crossed the whitewash, but it could easily have been more had Luke Arscott not spilled the ball just inches from the line midway through the second half.

Baxter added: “I was a little worried when we didn’t pull our lead out, but to be fair I thought we were magnificent. We did a lot of what we said we were going to do. Our forwards really fronted up and that kept a lot of pressure off us in a number of ways.

“We dealt with Northampton’s very good maul, stood in front of them at scrum time and that kind of kept us in the game. Obviously the conditions were perfect for us, this is Chiefs time of the year I keep telling everybody.

“We’re proving that that is the case, so this for me is a nice little step and we’ll be able to build on this for the rest of the season. “We’ll give the boys some time off over the next couple of days I think. They need to enjoy because when you work hard you have to enjoy the good moments, which they’re having now.”

Although the match-day 23 will go down in the history books as the men who helped to ensure Exeter’s first major silverware, Baxter was quick to praise the contribution of his whole squad throughout the competition.

“In some ways that is the nice thing about this cup,” said Baxter. “I know that there are bigger finals to be played, but what is nice about this one is you do have to play it with your whole squad. We’ve used something like 44 players and that makes it something special. To use all those guys all the way to the final – I know we’ve gone stronger in the latter stages – but it does show you have to win a number of games with the strength of your squad.

“And I am pleased with the mental strength of the team to really wanting to be going for it at this time of the year because down the line this is when you have to be good if you want to be challenging at the very top end of the game.”

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Dave B

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