Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter wants his side to use the anger and disappointment of their narrow defeat at reigning Aviva Premiership champions Leicester Tigers as the ideal springboard for a big display at home to Newcastle Falcons this Saturday.
Baxter's side produced a sterling display during their 37-27 loss at Welford Road, but despite dominating for large periods of the game it was the Tigers who ultimately prevailed thanks to a late fight back which saw them claim three converted tries in the second half.
To head back to Sandy Park with nothing to show for a valiant performance in the Tigers den was something which left the Exeter coach somewhat riled at the final whistle.
Indeed with 16 minutes of the game to go, the Chiefs were threatening to cause an even bigger upset than that which they produced on the opening day of the season when they sank visiting Gloucester 22-10. The Tigers, though, are not multiple champions for nothing and in a determined fight back they somehow clawed back the deficit to claim their first win of the new season.
Afterwards, Baxter said: "I am not dispirited and I'm not initially cheered. If I'm honest, what I feel at the minute is probably anger. I am angry we have not come away with anything, but at the same time we did some very good things. We scored three tries at Welford Road and yet we still haven't come away with a bonus point, which I think was the very least we deserved.
"The truth of it all, I suppose, was we played very well for a large parts of the game, but momentum in the last 20 minutes - for various reasons - got away from us. Some poor decisions, some little errors meant once that momentum went away we struggled to get back into the game. That said we will have learnt a lot today. As we know Leicester are very good at coming strong in the final quarter of the game and they did that today - they eventually ground out a good victory for them."
The disappointment on the face of Baxter was indeed clear to see, but he insists the hard work will start again on Monday morning as they prepare to face a Falcons side, which picked up their first win on Friday night at home to London Wasps.
Baxter added: "I think that was a step forward from the Gloucester performance, which it had to be to come here and perform. We were competitive for large parts of the game and I am very pleased with that. I have just said to the boys for this to mean anything, we need to improve; move on and take whatever we have got into next week. If we are disappointed with the result, we need to take that bit of anger into next week because it's a very important game for us. Every home game is going to be vital in what we want to achieve this season."
When quizzed by the national media on just why his side appeared not to be fazed at all by their journey to the current champions, Baxter remarked: "We have no baggage in the Premiership, so everything for us is an adventure and we are enjoying everything we do. All along we have said that is how we are going to spend this season, so there was no reason for us to be beaten before we came here.
"We were always going to give it our all. I thought a lot of what we tried to do in preparation for the game came off today. We scored some good tries, based largely around some stuff that we had trained to do, but we got squeezed out at the end. The penalty count went against us massively as the pressure told, so that is something we will have to have a look at this week and try to improve, but as I've said before we have got a great attitude and the boys are playing with real enthusiasm and we are getting better."
"Of course the guys are disappointed because they wanted to get something out of the game. As I said, we have come away after a decent performance, scored three tries, yet we haven't even got a point at the end. Our performance was pleasing, but you need to get points on the board because that is what league rugby is all about."
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