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Rob Baxter relishing Exeter's top-of-the-table showdown with Saracens

Published 31/01/2016

Exeter boss Rob Baxter is looking forward to going head-to-head against Saracens next week
Exeter boss Rob Baxter is looking forward to going head-to-head against Saracens next week

Exeter boss Rob Baxter has predicted "a real humdinger" when his Chiefs tackle Saracens in a top-of-the-table Aviva Premiership clash next Sunday.

Prolific try-scorers Thomas Waldrom and James Short once again came up trumps for Exeter as they moved just two points behind leaders Saracens following a 30-15 victory over Worcester at Sixways.

"We are looking forward to next week," Baxter said.

"We will go after it and enjoy being back at Sandy Park, and Saracens will enjoy coming there. They enjoy denting big home records - that's the kind of stuff they relish.

"I think it will be a real humdinger of a game. The mentality of next next week will deal with itself, which is always nice, and we can enjoy just getting out there."

Short, Waldrom, centre Ian Whitten and flanker Don Armand posted tries as Exeter prevailed in bonus point fashion following an impressive final 22 minutes after five Tom Heathcote penalties meant Worcester were level approaching the hour mark.

Exeter fly-half Gareth Steenson kicked two penalties and two conversions, and although the Chiefs were by no means at their best, it says everything about them that they still managed to claim a five-point maximum away from home.

Baxter added: "It was tough, although not unexpected, to be honest. If you don't get a lot of things right against Worcester, they stay in the fight. They don't just go away.

"The first half was a combination of us being very good and pretty average.

"When we got tempo and accuracy into the game, we looked good, but I think we weren't then prepared to work hard enough to get things done that then allow you to score tries and build periods of pressure.

"We put the ball on the floor a little bit too much, we were ill-disciplined when Worcester had the ball and that created a lot of pressure on ourselves.

"In the second half, things didn't go to hand for them and their mistakes counted against them, and we were able to capitalise and gain some momentum.

"I thought we found space and you then have to be really hard-nosed and accurate to keep possession and territory for long periods. Until the last 30 minutes, if anything, they were kicking the penalties and spending time in our half."

Baxter, meanwhile, praised the contributions of England squad members, hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie and centre Sam Hill, who both impressed on returning from injury.

"There were some bonuses out there," Baxter said.

"Luke came in - he has not played a minute of rugby since November - and did very well, and Sam Hill has not played a minute for about six weeks and added some real impetus.

"We weathered some tough storms out there and five points away from home has bumped us five points on from Northampton and an additional point on from Wasps."

Worcester, though, are at the Premiership's bottom end, just one point above 11th-placed Newcastle and only four clear of basement club London Irish, who they visit next weekend.

"I think, to be fair, they (Exeter) just saw things a little bit faster than us," Worcester rugby director Dean Ryan said.

"Our general structure was about the same pace as theirs, but they had two or three players who could step things up and hurt us. Sometimes against the best sides, they see it a little bit clearer than we do.

"We are pretty happy with the level we are playing at - I think we look like we are enjoying our rugby. This season will not be defined by next weekend."

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