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Rob Baxter says Exeter will be on point Wasps

Published 07/05/2016

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter says his side are ready for their big day
Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter says his side are ready for their big day

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter insisted his side will rise to the occasion for their historic Aviva Premiership home semi-final clash with Wasps - before revealing England wing Jack Nowell was not even fully fit during his tear through Harlequins.

Chiefs were simply unstoppable as Nowell's hat-trick, James Short's double and tries from Will Chudley, Julian Salvi, Phil Dollman, Henry Slade and Dave Ewers made it a miserable 62-24 send-off for Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea in his last game at the Stoop.

Wasps now await the Chiefs at Sandy Park - they lost at the same venue 24-3 a week ago - and Baxter warned Nowell could be even more dangerous should he shrug off a slight hamstring strain.

"If a semi-final at home at Sandy Park doesn't bring our best game of the season out of us then we probably don't deserve to be there," said Baxter, who will lead Exeter into their first-ever Premiership semi-final.

"That's very much what I'll say to the players, let's be prepared to play the best game we've played because the occasion deserves it. We go there looking on good form both try scoring and defensively.

"Jack Nowell looked absolutely electric and that was on one-and-a-half legs really, that's why we got him off early. He's had a slight hamstring issue for a couple weeks we've been monitoring."

Nowell, a starter during England's Grand Slam campaign earlier this year, also closely monitors an ongoing knee problem which restricts his mid-week training.

And Baxter added: "Jack won't mind me telling you he's been doing his usual weeks of just being fit for Friday. He comes out and does the warm-up for the team run and that's pretty much it then he plays a game of rugby, but it seems to suit him."

Danny Care, Kyle Sinckler and Winston Stanley efforts made the scoreline slightly more palatable for Harlequins, as they tumbled out of the Premiership's top six.

That means Quins must beat Montpellier in Friday's Challenge Cup final to secure Champions Cup rugby next year and O'Shea issued one final rallying cry ahead of his departure.

"In my full first season here we finished seventh and won the Challenge Cup so hopefully we can bookmark and finish seventh and win the Challenge Cup, but between now and next Friday no one will give us a chance," said O'Shea, who takes over as Italy head coach in June.

"It's gut-wrenching to see a team play so far below what they have and they can. That's the hard part.

"We have a good group of players, I know my image of this group isn't what happened out there but it's the image we have to carry with us into the summer, unless we can show the steel of sports people."

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