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Exeter Chiefs were too emotional following internal tragedy in camp

By PA
Matt Scott of Leicester Tigers walks off at the end of the game as Exeter Chiefs team applaud during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Leicester Tigers and Exeter Chiefs at Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium on May 18, 2024 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Graham Chadwick/Getty Images)

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter felt his players may have been too emotional in the 40-22 defeat at Leicester that snuffed out their Gallagher Premiership play-off hopes.

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In truth, results elsewhere meant the outcome at Welford Road was academic, although Exeter did not help themselves with an ill-disciplined and unstructured display.

Leicester, on the other hand, produced an impressive performance that ended what has been a trying season for them on a high, with a red card for Jasper Wiese in his final game for the club the only negative.

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Baxter said: “We turned up here very emotionally driven, threw a lot of energy into the early part of the game, but did we really have a cast-iron direction and accuracy? No.

“We threw a lot of emotion into the game and with things like what happened with [the death of] Jack Yeandle’s dad this morning, and the players knowing about that, it really meant a lot to them to try and put a big performance on the field.

“I just said to them ‘I know you really care about what’s happened, I know you’ve really been emotive about it, I know this is really hurting you, but let’s make sure we learn this lesson’.

Fixture
Gallagher Premiership
Leicester
40 - 22
Full-time
Exeter Chiefs
All Stats and Data

“One of the best ways for me to describe our performance was at one stage it looked like we had 15 guys on the field all trying to win the game on their own.”

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After Immanuel Feyi-Waboso’s opening try for Exeter, Leicester hit back through tries for Ollie Hassell-Collins and Jack van Poortvliet to lead 20-10 at half-time.

Scores from Tommy Reffell and Mike Brown effectively killed the game off for the Tigers before the Chiefs pulled back tries through Dan Frost and Ross Vintcent, who had earlier been speared by Wiese for his red card.

Leicester head coach Dan McKellar said of Wiese: “I wouldn’t be tarnishing his career at the Tigers off the back of that.

“I don’t think there was a whole lot in it, was there?

“Jasper, as you could see when he came off the field, is a fan favourite here and he’ll go down as one of the great imports for the club and we certainly will ensure his reputation isn’t tarnished off the back of one pretty soft action.

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“The players can enjoy a beer together off the back of a pleasing performance.

“I think today we saw a lot of transfer in what we’ve worked hard on for so long and really good balance.

“We weren’t perfect, we made some mistakes and we’ll be better for it, but I thought today, in terms of our attacking rugby that we’ve been wanting to play, I think it was there for all to see.”

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