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Baxter praises battling Chiefs

Rob Baxter

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter praised his quick learners as the newly-promoted side salvaged a losing bonus point with a stirring fightback against second-placed Northampton in their Aviva Premiership clash at Franklin's Gardens.

Trailing 27-9 with just over 10 minutes to go, gritty Exeter reduced the final deficit to 27-21 to earn a deserved point with tries from Chris Budgen and Luke Arscott.

Baxter said: "Northampton had the game pretty much sewn up, eased off a little bit for whatever reason, made a few changes, took off some key personnel. That was the time of the game we had to push hard to try and get something out of the game and we did."

He added: "We forced some penalties, forced a yellow card (for Northampton centre Jon Clarke) and scored our tries.

"Some teams have completely crumbled in the face of Northampton's scrum this season but we certainly didn't."

Jim Mallinder, the Northampton director of rugby, described his side's performance as "frustrating" after they failed to kick on and secure a winning bonus point.

"Partly it was our fault," he said. "Our scrum went really well and we got a just reward from that in terms of penalties but it meant we could never really play from it.

"Our line-out didn't function as well as it had in the previous four games and we gave the ball away when we did have it.

"When you have that with struggling to defend and struggling to get the ball back it makes it a frustrating game, but there was no complacency there. You have got to make changes in this day and age and the lads did all right but we got pinned on the back foot and got penalised a lot in the second half.

"I think Exeter came here with the intention of slowing things down a bit - if you noticed every scrum there was an injury, which is an interesting way to do it - but it worked for them."

PA