Baxter says Exeter will go 'flat out' to ensure European adventure continues
Rob Baxter says Exeter will 'go flat out' in pursuit of a European Champions Cup quarter-final place after suffering a 22-17 defeat to Leinster at the Aviva Stadium.
The Chiefs have it all to do in a high-quality Pool Three - Leinster currently lead with 18 points, with Montpellier (13) second and the Devon side trailing in third with nine.
However, the English champions host Montpellier next before visiting bottom side Glasgow in the final round - so they could still mathematically reach 19 points.
Converted tries from Sam Skinner and Luke Cowan-Dickie raised hopes of a successful revenge mission for Exeter, as they tore into a 17-3 lead and silenced the majority of the 40,064-strong Dublin crowd.
However, despite losing Jonathan Sexton to concussion and both Cian Healy and Scott Vardy to the sin-bin, five Isa Nacewa penalties had Leinster within striking range before Luke McGrath's 65th-minute try completed a gutsy comeback from the Irish province.
Asked about his team's European hopes after home-and-away defeats, Baxter made reference to the 2015/16 campaign when they reached Europe's last-eight with three wins.
Exeter's director of rugby said: "We've two tough games to go, we'll go flat out and see what the pool brings. We've qualified in extraordinary circumstances before, more extraordinary than this."
One of the major talking points from the match was Leinster prop Healy's forearm which connected with Cowan-Dickie's head at a first half ruck.
Baxter dismissed suggestions that it should have been a red card rather than a yellow, saying: "Healy...yellow. I'd much rather talk about things we can improve on.
"There was some ill-discipline, some errors in pressure moments - fair play to Leinster, they kept their nerve.
"I'd like to think we're a good side, and so for them to beat us home and away means they are a good side.
"We're annoyed with the soft points we gave up at the end of the first half, the two penalties kept Leinster in it at 17-9. But I can see the improvements we have made over the last seven days. The guys should get better as a result of today."
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen s aid: "I'm very proud of the players. Exeter are a very good team, they were well up for the game and we lacked composure in the first half.
" It was about holding on to the ball. We defended for huge periods and then you're down to 14 men and we got pulled apart as well (going down 17-3).
"It's important we didn't panic (at the end of the first half). We had some discussions about it with the players yesterday...if we did find ourselves in that situation we would wait and try to manage our way out of it. We kept the scoreboard ticking over, so we stayed in touch.
"We want to progress in the competition but we have to be a lot better. We've got four wins from four and there's still a lot of work to do."
Sexton failed his head injury assessment early on but helped his deputy Ross Byrne regroup at the interval and set Leinster up for their improved second half show.
Cullen explained: "Johnny was in the dressing room at half-time taking to Ross, going through the game plan. Johnny will go through his return-to-play but he looks fine. Ross steered us around the pitch pretty well in the second half.
Cullen also singled out 35-year-old captain Nacewa for praise, adding: " We dug ourselves out of a hole and Isa, with his leadership and kicking, was central to that.
"He's a remarkable individual. He retired from the game five years ago! It's incredible how he can step up and lead the team like that."