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Baxter boosted by Exeter progress

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter refused to get carried away after his side booked their place in the semi-finals of the European Challenge Cup with an emphatic 48-13 victory over Newcastle Falcons.

The Chiefs outscored their opponents six tries to one at Sandy Park, with a David Ewers score and a penalty try helping the home side into a 17-6 half-time lead.

Exeter then added further tries through Thomas Waldrom, Byron McGuigan, Sam Hill and Dean Mumm after the break, with outclassed Newcastle only able to respond with a 68th-minute effort from Chris Harris and eight points from the boot of Tom Catterick. Exeter fly-half Henry Slade added four conversions and two penalties with his replacement Gareth Steenson landing two conversions.

"Some people try and build-up games a being big moments but I see it as a nice little indication that we are becoming a bit more of a consistent team than we have been in the past," said Baxter.

"If you look at where we are now getting into the final of the LV=Cup, being around the top end of the Premiership and now through to the semi-final of the European competition, shows that over the course of the season that we have been consistent in the right way."

The victory sets up a last-four meeting with Gloucester at Kingsholm in a fortnight and Baxter is excited about the challenge ahead.

"Things are there for us to play for now which makes things very exciting," he added.

"The tries were great and were fantastic for everyone to watch but for me what was most pleasing was the defensive performance and the way that we managed to control the game.

"If you want to be a good side you have to want to be in semi-final and finals and have big Premiership games coming up. Some people may say that schedule makes it tough for us, but I'm just excited to keep aiming for things."

Defeat ends Newcastle's hopes of honours this season, but director of rugby Dean Richards is keen to see a reaction from his players.

"It will be interesting to look at the stats to see how many of the Exeter tries came from our basic errors or people going off plan. It was one of those days which we will have to put behind us because it was a bad day at the office," he said.

"It was never going to be easy down here at Sandy Park but the difficulty for us was that there was so many basic errors - people not keeping to script. It was 17-6 at half time and Exeter had been in our half twice and scored two tries.

"We only have ourselves to blame for the result. Our heads dropped a bit but we have to be ready for the visit of Bath in the Premiership on Friday night. We are capable of beating the sides although we have left to play - we have to make sure that we do beat them."


From Belfast Telegraph