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Furious Rob Baxter threatens to cut players after 'litany of errors'

By PA
The Exeter Chiefs team run onto the field during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Bath Rugby and Exeter Chiefs at the Recreation Ground on March 26, 2023 in Bath, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Exeter boss Rob Baxter struggled to contain his anger as he delivered a withering verdict on the Chiefs’ 36-19 Gallagher Premiership defeat at Bath.

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It was a result that left Exeter eight points adrift of the play-off places with just three games left – and two of those fixtures are away against sides currently in the top four, Leicester and London Irish.

Given that Bath had lost five successive league matches and not won in the Premiership this year, Exeter were strong favourites to inflict further misery on them.

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But the Chiefs ended up conceding five tries and now face a major task to recover in time for next weekend’s Heineken Champions Cup round-of-16 clash against Montpellier.

“We have to have a good look at each other because we are killing each other,” Exeter rugby director Baxter said.

“We can’t perform as a team because individually we are killing each other. I am at that stage when I am almost thinking we have got to change the personnel.

“We have got guys now who are champing at the bit and expecting to be there or thereabouts as players move on next season, and I just said to the lads ‘the power you have got as a player is your performance’.

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“They perform and it shows how much they want things and how good they want to be. The power I have got is selection.

“I thought ‘do I talk honestly about today or say we have had a bad day at the office, a big day next week, last 16 of Europe, bang that in and it is a quarter-final’, but I just could not say that to the players.

“I said ‘I am going to have to be honest, I don’t really care about morale for next week, that was poor’.

“We have come away to the team that is bottom of the Premiership – that is not taking anything away from Bath. They grew, and I was expecting us to grow across the 80 minutes.

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“It never looked like we were going to make the game about us. It was a litany of errors.

“We have got a lot to work on in a week, and the most important thing is how the players turn up on Tuesday. Did we look like a good team today? I don’t think we can say any player had a good game in any facet.”

Bath claimed tries from centres Cameron Redpath and Ollie Lawrence, prop Beno Obano, wing Joe Cokanasiga and hooker Tom Dunn, while scrum-half Ben Spencer kicked four conversions and Piers Francis landed a late penalty.

Exeter led until just before half-time, yet they had to content themselves with tries for centre Solomone Kata, prop Scott Sio and replacement hooker Jack Yeandle, with England centre Henry Slade adding two conversions.

Scotland star Finn Russell, who will join Bath from French club Racing 92 after the World Cup later this year, watched from the stands as Bath delivered a first Premiership win since New Year’s Eve.

“I am very glad for all involved at Bath Rugby,” Bath head of rugby Johann van Graan said.

“The players stuck to the plan, and we all know we are making small improvements week on week. Today was proof of that.

“We gave the supporters something to shout about, and the fact we won convincingly is good for all involved.

“We asked for an 80-minute performance, and we got that today.”

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