7th March 2014
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The two Westcountry clubs lock horns for a fourth time this season on Sunday when they meet in the LV= Cup semi-final at the Recreation Ground (1pm).

With Bath triumphant on the previous three occasions this term - as well as holding an 11-game unbeaten sequence over the Chiefs since 2010 - it's little wonder that Baxter and his team are keen to shake the monkey off their back.

However, add into the mix that a potential final spot at their own Sandy Park base is also up for grabs and the Chiefs have every reason to go 'full-on' into this latest tussle.

"I think it's very easy to talk about why we should be motivated for this game, simply because there are lots of motivating factors for us," explained Baxter. "The truth is, though, we have to get the nuts and bolts right. 

"We haven't actually talked too much about it being a semi-final because it actually doesn't mean that much in the grand scheme of things. Instead we've talked more about what we do well; getting the nuts and bolts right and working to keep improving.

"Last week we had a good result against London Irish and to see us nil a team for the first time in the Premiership is fantastic. However, we still made mistakes in the game and we want to be better than that."

Baxter continued: "If anything the last six to eight weeks have put a bit of steel into us about where we want to go as a team. I think it's made people stop and appreciate that there is still a fair amount of hard work for us still to do. 

"We know we are a very good and competitive side, but at the same time we're going to get the hard work done. Part of that is how we've trained this week and what I want to see is another set of improvements going into the Bath game.

"As I said, there were definitely improvements against London Irish, but at the same time - and in all fairness to them - they are below us in the Premiership. What we have to do is starting performing against the sides higher than us in the Premiership or those teams that perceive to be top four sides and get a few more bits and pieces right in those games. That is what we are striving to do at the minute and that's our big goal going forward."

Unlike previous rounds where Baxter again used the LV= Cup to utilise his playing squad to the full, this weekend it will be a near full-strength Chiefs line-up that takes to the field at The Rec.

Although missing Jack Nowell and Tom Johnson to England duty, the remainder of the Exeter team looks impressive. Johnson's absence means Dave Ewers is shunted from No.8 to blindside; Kai Horstmann anchors the scrum; whilst there is a first start since January for Chris Whitehead, who takes over at hooker from Luke Cowan-Dickie.

The back division remains untouched from last time out, but on the bench there are recalls for James Hanks and former Bath favourite James Scaysbrook.

And it's a squad that clearly excites Baxter ahead of the big kick-off. 

He said: “We’ll be going full-on, for obvious reasons – it’s the first time we’ve been in the semi-finals, the final’s at Sandy Park and we want to keep some momentum from the win against London Irish.

"We’ve performed well at Bath in the last couple of years – we’ve scored tries and scored plenty of points, the key for us again is making sure we get our game-management right and defensively we’re very sound. That will make us a difficult team to beat because we do score points.”

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Dave B

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