Rob Baxter: Exeter determined to go one better this season
Exeter head coach Rob Baxter feels the Chiefs' defeat in last season's Aviva Premiership final is spurring them on after they demolished Leicester Tigers in their own back yard.
The Chiefs' 34-15 victory extended their unbeaten run to 10 games and the maximum five points consolidated their position in second place on 59 points, one adrift of leaders Wasps.
It was Leicester's biggest home league defeat of the season and Baxter could not hide his delight at scoring four tries to get a bonus point at Welford Road as Exeter attempt to go one better than last season when they finished second in the league and lost to Saracens in the final.
He said: "There's no point in me beating about the bush, I'm delighted to get five points here.
"It was a crucial game. Leicester have started to find a bit of form and were fighting towards the top four and we were fighting to stay second.
"And we have got what we needed. We are still a relatively new Premiership club but I am not going to stand here and run away from the fact that we were in the final last season.
"If you finish second as we did and you are runners-up in the final, as long as you keep the foundations in place there is only one thing to aim for, that is to win it.
"I am not going to say we are not thinking about winning it. Of course we are.
"It's a huge motivation for us. Finishing second last season is a huge motivation for me. I don't want to finish second again.
"I think we are mentally stronger than last season. Physically we are good.
"We have had three Premiership games where we have conceded early scores but it has not diverted us.
"If anything it has strengthened our resolve and we have improved. The players know that if they keep working at what we do we will create some good moments. The next two or three weeks will be very important for us."
Exeter, who ended Leicester's three-match winning run, had the match sewn up by half time when they led 27-8 through tries by flanker Kai Horstmann, who has just signed a new one-year deal, scrum-half Stuart Townsend, and a penalty try, while fly-half Henry Slade kicked 12 of his 14 points.
Lock Mitch Lees added another after the interval to kill off any hopes of a Tigers revival after French centre Maxime Mermoz had given the Tigers hope with a 48th-minute try.
The fact that it came when Exeter were down to 14 men - Geoff Parling was sin-binned - summed up Exeter's superiority on a night when Leicester were outgunned in every facet of the game.
Leicester, who scored in the fifth minute through prop Michele Rizzo, were their own worst enemies, Owen Williams gifting Exeter their first try after being charged down and conceding a penalty try after hooker Tom Youngs pulled down a driving maul and was sin-binned.
Head coach Aaron Mauger said: "It was frustrating. There were key moments in the first half when we let ourselves down.
"The chargedown was a lack of concentration. It was an easy seven points and allowed Exeter to get some momentum.
"The critical moment was when Geoff Parling went off and we didn't capitalise on it and they went down the other end and scored.
"They were better than us, especially up front. It's definitely a backwards step. We prepared to win this game but we did not execute well enough."
Mauger said scrum-half Sam Harrison damaged knee ligaments adding: "Hopefully it's not too bad."