Chiefs Side To Face Harlequiins
2nd May 2014
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A fortnight has passed since the Devon club suffered a record 55-12 top flight defeat to Sale Sharks at Sandy Park - and the Exeter head coach wants to see some pride restored within the ranks with a passionate display in the club's penultimate league game of the season.

He said: “It’s about focusing back on ourselves, not getting distracted and realising that the week’s preparation and everything we do is towards a big performance on Sunday.

“If you turn up and train well during the week it does not mean Sunday will be okay, there’s a bit more to it than that.

“Sometimes you can have a poor training week and go into a really big performance because everybody’s focus has been on the game coming up. As long as this week’s training has some intensity about it, I’m not worried if it’s not the most accurate group of sessions. I want us to show we’re preparing for a big physical performance.”

Certainly Baxter believes he has seen enough in training this week to encourage both himself and his players heading into this latest battle, but says mistakes shown last time out can ill afford to be repeated against the in-form Londoners.

“It has been a little bit tough the last few weeks as we've wanted to get back on the pitch because we obviously knew as a team we let ourselves down against Sale,” added Baxter. “Whatever the reasons are for that - at the end of the day you have to say it's unacceptable to lose like that at home.

"There have been no excuses made by the players in the aftermath, instead we've had a good training week, gone through the review process and talked about the qualities we want to show - not just on match-days - but every day when we train and when we play."

Although the Chiefs have had plenty of time to ponder since the Sale setback, the break in action has at least allowed Baxter to freshen up his stock and get one of two more bodies back in the selection mix for this weekend.

Among those returning to the starting line-up include skipper Dean Mumm, Carl Rimmer, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Hoani Tui, the latter of whom is set for pastures new next season in France with newly-promoted Lyon.

The Maori prop, along with Jason Shoemark, Craig Mitchell, James Phillips and Romana Graham, are all departing Devon come the end of the season, but Baxter insists all of them have played their part during their time at the club and a fitting send-off for them would be a final home win.

“We’ve tended to have good games against Harlequins and the players should be excited by it,” he said. “We’ll talk about it being a big game of Premiership rugby at Sandy Park, it should mean a lot to us and we’ve got to show that. So long as we do that, I’ll be happy.

“We’ve got several players who are leaving the club and several players who have been forced to retire and they’ve all been big parts of what we’ve done at Sandy Park.

“All these things should play their part in motivating us and that has to be the bigger side of the balance than what happened against Sale.

“I’m a pretty simple guy when it comes to what makes me happy and what upsets me on a rugby pitch. Wins are great, but you can be proud of any kind of performance really. I know if the guys are giving their all, and if they are then I’m prepared to take whatever result comes on the chin.”

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Dave B

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