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Saracens thumping could help Exeter

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Rob Baxter's surprising take on thumping by title rivals Saracens

By PA Authors
By Online Editors

Rob Baxter insists Exeter will be stronger for their five-try drubbing by Gallagher Premiership title rivals Saracens at Allianz Park if they meet again in the Twickenham final.

A 38-7 bonus-point victory has given Mark McCall’s English champions hope of finishing the regular season top of the table with one round left to play – a position the Chiefs have held for the majority of the campaign.

Already assured of home semi-finals, both teams field weakened sides for what was likely to be a dress rehearsal for the Premiership showpiece on June 1.

“If you get to the stage where results mean nothing, you’re in the wrong business. But bigger picture, I wouldn’t change the team I selected,” director of rugby Baxter said.

“We took some important things out of this. It has given us a view on some players and we’ve rested and hopefully cleared up a few niggles. But I’d have liked us to have performed better.

“There’s always the psychological damage of a result like this, but there’s also the reality of knowing that we have to be good and that tends to bring out the best out in us.

Saracens handed Exeter Chiefs a heavy defeat

“We don’t have to be the best Exeter Chiefs at the moment. We finished top last season and it didn’t win us anything. Two years ago we finished second and we won the Premiership.”

Before the play-offs begin, Saracens face their biggest match of the season to date when they collide with Leinster in Saturday’s Champions Cup final in Newcastle.

“We don’t know if we’ll play Saracens again, so we don’t know if them playing in the final will give us any advantage,” Baxter said.

“Actually, disrupted game time at the end of the season is one of the things that has hurt us most.

“I would have no issue to keep playing through and I actually believe that Saracens are thriving on it.

“I don’t see how it’s an advantage if Saracens have a broad squad of good players. It allows you to keep gaining momentum.”

McCall refused to view Saracens’ victory as a signpost of what might happen if the rivals qualify for the final.

“We wanted some momentum as a club and there’s a good buzz around the place at the moment,” McCall said.

“But they rested their best team and we rested our XV for next week, so this game was unimportant if we play again.”

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Rob Baxter's surprising take on thumping by title rivals Saracens