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Exeter boss Rob Baxter decries 'absolute madness' despite win

By PA
TOULOUSE, FRANCE - APRIL 14: Rob Baxter, the Exeter Chiefs director of rugby looks on during the Investec Champions Cup Quarter Final match between Stade Toulousain and Exeter Chiefs at Stade Ernest Wallon on April 14, 2024 in Toulouse, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter had sympathy for Harlequins after the Chiefs stormed to a 58-26 victory at Sandy Park to keep their Premiership play-off hopes alive.

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Quins faced a crunch clash in Devon only six days after suffering a 38-26 Champions Cup semi-final defeat to Toulouse in France.

Chiefs endured a similar scenario last month when they lost at home to Bath in the league six days after a heavy European quarter-final loss to the French side, and Baxter said he fully understands what Quins were up against as he bemoaned the fixture scheduling.

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Baxter said: “I spoke to a couple of their coaches afterwards and said no-one appreciates how hard it is to come back from Toulouse on a Sunday and play on a Saturday more than I.

“The Premiership calendar does not help English teams in Europe. If we had got to the semi-final, we would have had to play Gloucester on the Sunday pre-Toulouse on the Saturday.

“It is just absolute madness what we do, but we suffered against Bath and we have taken advantage of it today.”

Exeter trailed 21-14 after 36 minutes but hit back in spectacular fashion with 44 unanswered points – before Louis Lynagh’s late bonus-point try for the visitors – to leapfrog Harlequins into fifth place in the table.

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Young Chiefs full-back Dan John started that charge with a try with the last play of the first half – something Baxter felt was key.

Match Summary

3
Penalty Goals
0
7
Tries
4
7
Conversions
3
0
Drop Goals
0
131
Carries
80
11
Line Breaks
4
9
Turnovers Lost
11
4
Turnovers Won
4

He added: “The score we got just before half-time was very important, but we did say if we wanted any benefit from the fatigue level of Harlequins having to come back from Toulouse on Sunday, it wasn’t going to count in the first half but in the second.

“(However) it would only happen if we went after it really hard after the break, and we did that, and I think that was a key fundamental of the game.”

Chiefs are two points behind fourth-spot Sale, level on 50 points with Harlequins, with seventh-placed Bristol on 49. Exeter travel to Leicester on the final day of the season, with Quins hosting Bristol.

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Baxter said: “This whole week is going to be exciting, but we can’t expect our excitement and exuberance to win us the game.

“Leicester are a good side, they have got a lot of pride, and we have got to get a lot right between now and then, patch up a few injuries, and head there bang in the right frame of mind, take every opportunity we can and see if we can get to the play-offs.”

Quins head coach Danny Wilson was disappointed with his side’s display after the break but was delighted with their potentially crucial late rally.

He said: “You don’t become a bad team on one half of rugby, much in the same way you don’t become a championship-winning team on the back of one really good half of rugby, so we’ll have to look at the reasons why.

“In the first half I thought we put ourselves in a position to be in the game, but then the second half was really not acceptable for us. It was not the standard that we’ve been at this season.

“What was pleasing was that we scored that fourth try (through Lynagh) right at the end. In a half where we were really struggling and we’re on a bit of a collapse – to show that character to still go out and fight for that last try might be vital.

“It gives us an opportunity and a chance after a season of really hard work.”

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Comments

1 Comment
m
matt 63 days ago

So what were saying is if you make it through to the play offs in Europe you’re likely to suffer at the tail end of the prem. No extra cash for playing in Europe, more chance of injury, fatiguing the team…while others not through rest up. whats the point??

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