Exeter coach Rob Baxter hoping Chiefs can learn from Clermont loss
Exeter coach Rob Baxter admits he was left frustrated and disappointed after his side's crushing 42-10 defeat at Clermont Auvergne but hopes they can use the chastening experience to their advantage in the future.
A week after claiming a bonus-point win over Clermont, the Chiefs were put to the sword in Sunday's return clash in France as the Top 14 side outscored them five tries to one.
The result leaves Exeter third in Pool 2 of the Champions Cup on 10 points, level with second-placed Clermont but having played one more match than their rivals.
However, with games against Bordeaux-Begles (away) and Ospreys (home) to come, Baxter has not given up hope of earning a top-two finish - and he hopes that the experience gained from Sunday's loss will help stand them in good stead when they go to Bordeaux.
He said: "The bigger picture is that this result may not mean too much. We still have two games to go and we would have had to have won at least one of them - now we have to win them both.
"If we use this experience of coming to France to win another game in France later in the pool, then great.
"We have got to use the frustrations, disappointments and errors, both collectively and as individuals, the next time we come over here because there will be a similar amount of pressure and we will be playing in front of an even bigger crowd."
It was looking good for the Chiefs as Gareth Steenson gave them the lead with a third-minute penalty while Clermont fly-half Camille Lopez trudged off to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle.
However, while Lopez was away, Clermont piled up 13 unanswered points, including a brilliant try from ex-England wing Dave Strettle.
Morgan Parra converted Strettle's try and then added a penalty to make it 16-3 before the Chiefs lost number eight Thomas Waldrom to the sin-bin for ripping the ball out of the arms of a Clermont player on the floor.
By the time he returned the home side had added further tries through back row men Alexandre Lapandry and Fritz Lee and were 25 points ahead.
There were two more tries for the home fans to celebrate before the end - their last home defeat in the European Cup came against Sale in 2008 - with giant lock Sebastien Vahaamahina driving over and then Wales and Lions centre Jonathan Davies crossing in the corner.
Exeter managed to get a late consolation try from Tom Johnson when Clermont were down to 13 men - Vito Kolelishvili and Clement Ric having been yellow-carded - but that did not paper over the issues that Baxter witnessed during the match.
He said: "I'm a bit frustrated and disappointed at how quickly we went off plan as individuals. We started very brightly, but then we gave away a plethora of silly penalties and never got the controlled possession we had last week.
"We are a pretty good team now and we need our guys to stay confident with what we do. When it is tough, and it was at times, that's the time to really stick at it. We didn't and we went off on our own."