Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Baxter: No sitting back

Rob Baxter wants Exeter to take the game to Clermont Auvergne
Rob Baxter wants Exeter to take the game to Clermont Auvergne

Rob Baxter has vowed that his Exeter team will "attack the game" when they aim to floor French heavyweights Clermont Auvergne at Sandy Park on Saturday.

Three years ago this weekend, the Chiefs were preparing for a Championship game against Rotherham. But on Saturday, Exeter make their home Heineken Cup debut, tackling one of the tournament's most star-studded teams seven days after they lost just 9-6 to European champions Leinster in Dublin.

"All week we've talked about being the team that attacks, being the team that has the ball and seeing what we can get out of the game," head coach Baxter said. "Certainly, we are going to attack the game, look to score tries and see what comes from it."

The Scarlets, crushed 49-16 by Clermont last Saturday, realise their hopes of progressing from Pool Five will effectively be over if they fail to topple Leinster on home soil.

And Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby knows that his former Ireland team-mate Brian O'Driscoll remains a talismanic figure within the defending champions' ranks, saying: "He is very important. He's not getting any younger, but he's certainly not getting any poorer in terms of his attitude and the way he plays the game."

English champions Harlequins will take a sizeable stride toward this season's quarter-finals if they beat Connacht in Galway, but recent tournament history underlines it is not a trip they can take lightly. Their quarter-final hopes last season were destroyed by a 9-8 loss to Connacht on the final weekend of pool stage games. Had they won, Quins would have progressed.

Saracens host Pool One rivals Racing Metro in Brussels on Saturday, when the Stade Roi Baudouin will stage a fixture between the group's two unbeaten teams.

In Sunday's Heineken action, Leicester and the Ospreys will renew their fierce rivalry at Welford Road with Tigers knowing a home win is essential following their reversal against four-time European champions Toulouse last weekend.

Jonny Wilkinson's Toulon, meanwhile, roll into Cardiff for a Pool Six appointment with the Blues, whose Wales internationals Sam Warburton (finger) and Jamie Roberts (ribs) have shrugged off injuries to start in an unchanged team.

Sale Sharks - with Danny Cipriani starting at fly-half - visit Montpellier in the same group, while Munster host Pool One opponents Edinburgh.

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