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Baxter boosted by comeback

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter praised his side after they fought back superbly in the second half to secure a 30-9 win over Northampton.

A run of 27 unanswered points in the second half gave Exeter their biggest Aviva Premiership victory of the season with a handsome win at Sandy Park to condemn Northampton to their sixth successive league defeat. The home side went in at half-time 9-3 down but hit back in emphatic fashion through tries from Tom Hayes, Sireli Naqelevuki and Tom Johnson.

Baxter added: "Every time we win someone asks me if this was the best or most important victory but, for us, they are all great. We have achieved some notable things this season but the key for us is that this is probably the first time we've actually come from behind."

He added: "Not just to win but to win convincingly because normally we come out of the blocks well and we put the opposition under pressure and we just see that through and that's how we win.

"But in this game we were probably the team under pressure for the largest part of the first half but we weathered it and came through. I think that was the big move forward for us.

"We didn't play well in the first half but we regrouped at half-time and played some good rugby after the break and came through. A couple of breaks went our way and that's what can happen."

Northampton, the Heineken Cup quarter-finalists, have not won in the Premiership since they beat London Irish 35-23 at Franklins Gardens in November and director of rugby Jim Mallinder did not pull any punches after the game.

"It's all about our performance," said Mallinder. "In the first half we were competitive and we led 9-3 at half-time but the first 20 minutes of the second half was when we blew it.

"Defensively we were slack. We made some silly mistakes in defence and when we did have the ball we couldn't hold on to it. The worry is that we know we have some good players in the team but a lot of those good players are not playing well.

"It is quite clear that there is a lack of confidence and we have never blamed the recent slump in form on the absence of our international players. We think that we have enough quality in the team to do better than we are at the moment."


From Belfast Telegraph