Even though the Chiefs lost Ian Whitten, Phil Dollman and Thomas Waldrom all to yellow cards during the game, a 27-point haul from fly-half Henry Slade, coupled with a first half for Ben White, proved enough for success at the Twickenham Stoop.
In reply, Nick Evans claimed 16 points for the hosts, while centre Matt Hopper also crossed for a score, but it was the defiance and skill of the Chiefs they reigned supreme in the capital.
It was little wonder that the Chiefs head coach was so happy come the final whistle. He said: “We talked before the game and said it would be a test of character and what we need the players to do
individually and collectively was show that character.
“We have got bags of it in the team and we said to just go out there, let it shine and we’ll take what comes. To be fair, I wasn’t expecting to be sat here looking at such a big test of character as being down to 13 men in the first 10 minutes.
“Interestingly, I am not sure if dealing with those 13 minutes in the way we did almost told the story of the game because although we gave away some points, we really battled through it, and we defended numerous times on our line.
“Phil Dollman’s yellow card was for an absolutely committed tackle chucking himself into a tackle in the corner. Anywhere else and I don’t think it would even be reviewed. I’m not saying it was not a yellow card but it was not a cynical one, and neither was Ian Whitten’s. He has committed himself into a tackle and the ball has come off him.
“I think that showed that it wasn’t us scrabbling backwards, rolling about on the floor trying to kill the game. It was a couple of active moments where we were trying got get forward and influence the game and we can live with that.
“We showed that although we had to weather a bit of intensity – and to be fair to Quins they really came at us in that initial period – we did actually work our way through it.”
Indeed, the Chiefs did come through a tough opening and for the remainder of the game they were comfortable in pretty much everything they did.
Baxter added: “We almost grew in strength as the game went on. When you are in the thick of it there were some hairy moments, but the way we fought and fought and fought was great.
“I can think of that moment Sam Hill getting back. How he got back to tackle Nick Evans in what was a long chase- and Sam is not known for his long distance efforts was great.
“Our tackle count for our defensive display must have been outstanding. If you look at the end when they had a scrum with a minute remaining, it would have been easy to go soft but we drove them back at the scrum, drove them up the field and Dave Ewers won another turn over. Those 30 seconds summed us up. We looked like a team that was not going to get beaten today and that is an incredible quality to have.”
Next up for the Chiefs will be Bath this Saturday at a sold-out Sandy Park and Baxter is already relishing the occasion where his side will be seeking a first-ever Premiership victory against their nearest and dearest.
“I am already wanting to enjoy myself but I also want to get ready for Bath next week because we roll into another great challenge. And that is what we want,” said Baxter.
“I would rather be going into Bath rather than a team that is out of contention for anything because it is a genuine game with something genuinely on it. There is even the potential for Exeter to win and go above Bath and that is a fantastic game to be involved in.
“There are numerous things that should be motivation for us. The players talked about the motivation needed for Harlequins and it is going to see what they come up with again Bath.
“It should be easy – we want to drive ourselves up the table, we want to drag Bath back to where we are and we want to do something special in the Premiership.
“I am delighted for the players. When you go into the changing room and you look at their faces and they are battered and bruised and scratched, you can really see that they have given something and it was worth it because they have their rewards and that is the best experience you can have.”
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