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Rob Baxter unhappy with Exeter display as Chiefs go down to Ospreys

Published 15/11/2015

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter saw his team suffer a 25-13 European Champions Cup defeat against the Ospreys in Swansea
Exeter head coach Rob Baxter saw his team suffer a 25-13 European Champions Cup defeat against the Ospreys in Swansea

Rob Baxter was in no mood to offer excuses after Exeter's European Champions Cup campaign began with a 25-13 defeat against the Ospreys.

The Chiefs were silenced by Ospreys centre Josh Matavesi's interception try eight minutes from time at the Liberty Stadium, while Wales fly-half Dan Biggar kicked 20 points from five penalties, a conversion and drop-goal.

Wing James Short claimed a well-worked touchdown for the Chiefs, with fly-half Gareth Steenson converting and booting two penalties, but they were unable to emulate fellow English clubs Leicester, Saracens, Northampton and Wasps, who all claimed opening weekend Champions Cup victories.

"I thought the Ospreys looked a lot more comfortable with the whole evening, and I think that is the disappointing thing for me," Exeter head coach Baxter said.

"I don't know if we ever really settled down and looked comfortable.

"At the start we created quite a lot of opportunities, but I don't think we realised there were points there for the taking. In the second half, we never really got a grip of the game at all.

"We made repeat errors and just got a bit uncharacteristically ragged, and I am a little frustrated that our forwards didn't take a bigger grip on the game in the second half.

"The scoreboard and the clock wasn't against us for quite a long time, but we started to play like it was. We got knocked out of our stride a little too easily for my liking."

The Ospreys could even afford for Biggar to miss three penalty attempts, but he regained his composure at key moments to ensure his team enjoyed a winning start in Pool Two.

They also denied Exeter a losing bonus point, which could prove important when quarter-final places are decided in January.

It was also the Chiefs' first defeat against Welsh opposition in any competition since they attained Premiership status in 2010.

"The penalty count did go against us, but I think we were architects of our own downfall there," Baxter added. "It's tough. I had hoped we were a little but further on than that, but we looked a little immature at times today.

"Ospreys were the better team, they've won, and that's fair enough. You have got to take that on the chin. I think a lot of the players will be frustrated.

"We didn't really look comfortable and happy out there and bursting with energy and enjoyment to really get stuck into the game. We were nervy and edgy early on, and then that became ragged with some ill-disciplined play later.

"When it was tight, I think they still stuck to their game-plan a little better than we did. We were the team making mistakes in the wrong area of the pitch, and they capitalised on it."

Ospreys now head to last season's beaten Champions Cup finalists Clermont Auvergne next Sunday, while Exeter must regroup quickly for Bordeaux-Begles' Sandy Park visit in six days' time.

"It's a good start. We can be happy with today," Ospreys captain Alun-Wyn Jones said.

"It is going to be a tough one out there next week, with the squad they (Clermont) have got and the sort of rugby they play."

And Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy added: "It's making sure you win your home games, and see what you can pick up on the road.

"Hopefully, we can go out to Clermont, try to score some points and see where that takes us."

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