Rob Baxter refused to criticise Exeter over bonus-point fail in Sale success
Rob Baxter refused to criticise his players after Exeter failed to secure a bonus point in a 21-3 victory at Aviva Premiership rivals Sale.
The Chiefs were in complete control at the break following an early penalty try and further scores from James Short and Will Chudley.
That made it 21-3 at the interval but they failed to build on that platform in the second half and clinch a fourth try that would have meant a five-point haul.
Nevertheless, the result lifted Exeter up to fourth in the Premiership and head coach Baxter said: "You can look at the result and think it's really disappointing not to push on and get the bonus point try.
"But actually I'm really pleased with the lads because we worked exceptionally hard to get a result which got us an important win at a place where, traditionally, we haven't played that well or got that many positive results.
"I'm just really pleased because we worked extremely hard. Defensively we were excellent with great line speed and good discipline.
"We controlled field possession and territory very well. Our forwards had some key moments and got us on the front foot.
"For me it wasn't a comfortable win but a hard-earned result and I thought we did it the right way without taking short-cuts.
"I've got to give the players credit because we came here with a game plan and they have executed it almost faultlessly."
Sale's ill discipline cost them dear in the first half before they regained some pride after the break with an improved display.
Rugby league convert Josh Charnley caught the eye but Steve Diamond's men still slumped to their fourth-straight loss in all competitions.
Diamond said: "It was disappointing. The team isn't playing well and there isn't much confidence in them.
"We will have a change of mindset over the weekend and come back in on Monday morning.
"We are not getting our basics right - we couldn't stop a driving maul five metres out - and maybe I've been a bit naive by picking too many youngsters in the team.
"We need to wisen up because we've gone from a team who have finished fifth and sixth in the past couple of years to a team who look like they could be in a relegation battle. We need to pull our finger out."