7th September 2015
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Although his side ran in five tries during a 41-38 win at Sandy Park, the six they leaked in return - three of them in the final ten minutes - was certainly an area of concern for the Exeter leader at the final whistle.


That said, Baxter and his players will have been glad to finally get out on the field after a gruelling few months of pre-season training and having some creditable action under their belts.


"It's like anything to do with pre-season games – they always seem to be a bit of a mixed bag,”said Baxter post-match.


"Probably with about 10-15 minutes to go it was what you would call a very satisfactory run-out and we got a lot of game time into a lot of players.But I was disappointed with the last 10 minutes or so. To concede relatively soft tries one after another in the fashion that we did I was disappointed with.


“Having said that, you always have to look at the positives in pre-season though and it was a first run-out and a lot of what we wanted to do was very positive.Some elements of our game looked very strong but, as I say, I am disappointed with the last 10 minutes because I always like to think one of the things you want to show in every game you play and every minute you play is a strong attitude not to give up anything easily - and it felt like we gave up something easy at the end there.


“I will be critical with the players about that next week, but at the same time you have to be positive about is the good things and that was we looked in pretty much complete control in the first half and for good sections of the second half. We have got what we want now, which is a match video to analyse, stuff to go through individual reviews with and video to look at in terms of patterns and formations.


“We’ve also got video to look at and see why we conceded 38 points as well, so it’s all relevant stuff for us moving forward.”


With the Chiefs fielding a completely different XV for each half, Baxter will have been content with large parts of the game - most notably in the first half where No.8 Thomas Waldrom crossed twice for tries and summer signing James Short also got in on the scoring act.


Gareth Steenson slotted conversions to all three tries to give his side a 21-5 lead at the turn and the Irishman’s replacement, Will Hooley, was also spot on with his kicking as he converted second half tries from Dave Lewis and Max Bodilly, as well as adding two penalties.


As always, though, Baxter is seeking to get the most from his squad and with a gruelling year of action in both the Premiership and the European Champions Cup, he knows his players must rise to the challenge.


He added: “If we want to be a really ambitious team who want to be in the Champions Cup every year and pushing around the top four in the league, sometimes you have to be a bit harsh on yourselves and you have be prepared to work very hard and take some of the tough stuff. 


“What this game will allow us to do is highlight the good things that went very well, but it will also let us talk to the players about standards in other areas. We probably conceded too many soft penalties and we conceded too many soft points. Those are going to be the harsh realities that we have to learn from, the positives are we have won a game of rugby and scored over 40 points, which also takes some doing.


“As I said, I don’t think it was a game where we could say everything was great or it was all bad, it wasn’t like that, but one thing the boys did look was enthusiastic to play rugby and that’s probably the single most important thing and that is the foundation we will add everything else too.”

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Dave B

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