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Baxter hails Waldrom's form

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter thinks Thomas Waldrom's form at number eight is up there with the best in the country after he inspired a first Aviva Premiership win at Northampton for the Chiefs.

Waldrom moved to the south west club in the summer from Leicester and he is quickly proving to be a crucial signing after scoring two tries in a famous 24-18 win at a wet Franklin's Gardens.

The champions were caught napping as Exeter's Luke Cowan-Dickie scored a try after 90 seconds and the visitors surged into a 21-6 half-time lead as Gareth Steenson converted all three tries. Northampton fought back with tries from Tom Stephenson and Jamie Elliott but it was too late.

Baxter said: "Thomas has just proved what he is, which is a good player. We knew when we signed him he was still a good player and he still has plenty left in the tank.

"He showed exceptional pace from halfway to score the interception try and there isn't many better still from the back of the scrum than Tom when he charged over from five metres. That is what we brought him for, those technical abilities at the back of the scrum and he is proving his worth.

"What else we can't underestimate is that Tom has come here and won before with Leicester. We have not got that many people, until tonight, who have done that. I don't know where he is with England, but his form is up there with the best of anybody at the moment."

Northampton had six players on international duty and another two injured and Baxter admitted it was now or never if his club were to break their hoodoo at the Gardens.

He said: "We are level-headed enough to know that if we were going to have a good season then this was an opportunity to come to Franklin's Gardens and pick up four points because we are all very aware that they have a lot of good players missing.

"The kicking and set-piece battle was always going to be key in these conditions and I think we deservedly edged that."

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder accused his side of being sloppy in the vital opening exchanges.

He said: "We conceded a really sloppy try from the kick-off and then gave away an interception try.

"We talked about their line speed during the week and we struggled with that.

"They came with a very simple game plan to kick most of their ball away and then take their opportunities and they did it well."

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