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Baxter hails "tough workout"

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter hailed the quality of the workout rather than the result of the 18-6 LV= Cup win over west country rivals Bath.

Defending champions Exeter made it two wins from as many matches in the competition after coming from behind to win in front of a record Sandy Park crowd of 11,785.

Despite having one eye on Friday night's trip to Franklins Gardens to face Aviva Premiership leaders Northampton, Exeter fielded a full strength side and gave a debut to Scotland A international full-back Byron McGuigan.

Baxter said: "Many of the guys have only played in one match in the last three weeks so we needed that tough workout. It was pleasing that we came through the game that was in the balance going into the final quarter.

"That was something that was definitely a weakness for us last season. We've had a tough 80 minutes against a Bath team that I thought played very well despite the changes they've had.

"We've had that tough workout; there are some areas to work on which we will identify early in the week but we looked like a group of players who needed the 80 minutes to there so I'm pleased, and relived, that it went the way it did.

The sides were level after the opening 40 minutes with former Wales international Gavin Henson putting the visitors ahead after just two minutes with the Chiefs replying with a Gareth Steenson penalty five minutes before the break.

A strong start to the second half was only rewarded with a Henson penalty before the Chiefs rallied in the final quarter with tries from replacement props Carl Rimmer, converted by Steenson, and Moray Low.

Baxter added: "Getting the final try was important for us because there have been so many scenarios where we have watched games slip away from us. The truth is that we were the team under pressure, at home in front of the biggest ever crowd here.

"We know that Bath had players away on international duty while we were pretty much full strength so we had it win really. That extra pressure is a good thing to play under so I'm pleased that Bath played as well as they did because it was tough for us.

"The bench had a good impact - Carl Rimmer is having a try-scoring feast but he is playing in the way where he's meriting the scores and making the impact because he looks on form at the minute.

"I'm pleased with the squad as a whole and pleased that we haven't picked-up any serious injuries. We've had a tough game but we don't look perfect but I think that is always the best way to be ahead of the Northampton game."

Having convincingly won their opening LV= Cup match against London Welsh last weekend, Bath's first team coach Darren Edwards was disappointed that his side had come away with nothing from this game

Edwards said: "We were disappointing having lost because we had a bunch of young guys who really wanted to prove themselves in that Bath shirt so we are really proud of them because they put in a good performance.

"The game swung on two incidents where we were in control of the situation but that is rugby for you. It was a tight game and a good battle. We know that the season will be tested on our squad strength and the squad is performing well.

"I thought that the forwards did really well; they battled hard particularly in that opening 20 minutes and their reward was to get a lot of scrum penalties. We feel confident going into our next batch of Premiership games."

Going into those matches, and George Ford likely to be away with England, Edwards acknowledges that Henson could fill the fly-half berth in the coming weeks - but he needs to prove himself.

Edwards added: "Gavin needs to stand-up - he is an international fly-half - and he is a competitor so he will want to put as much pressure on George as he can to keep the shirt but we know that we have quality 10's in our squad.

"We have to make sure that they get enough game time because we are going to need them. We hope we have a battle for every position in our team because that will make for a successful season."


From Belfast Telegraph