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Exeter keen to move on

Exeter will aim to put an "unacceptable" performance behind them on Sunday by recovering their poise and keeping alive hopes of European Champions Cup rugby next season.

The Chiefs face Aviva Premiership play-off contenders Harlequins at Sandy Park two weeks after they were demolished 55-12 on home soil by Sale Sharks.

While Quins need victory to maintain a top-four push, an Exeter win would retain a chance of finishing seventh and making a two-legged tie against a French club later this month for the 20th and final Champions Cup place.

"It has been a little bit tough the last few weeks as we've wanted to get back on the pitch. We let ourselves down against Sale," Exeter head coach Rob Baxter said.

"Whatever the reasons are for that, at the end of the day you have to say it's unacceptable to lose like that at home.

"There have been no excuses made by the players in the aftermath. Instead, we've had a good training week, gone through the review process and talked about the qualities we want to show.

"It has been about focusing back on ourselves, not getting distracted and realising that the week's preparation and everything we do is towards a big performance on Sunday."

Baxter recalls a number of players to the starting line-up this weekend, including forwards Hoani Tui, Carl Rimmer, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Dean Mumm.

"We've tended to have good games against Harlequins, and the players should be excited by it," Baxter added.

"We've got several players who are leaving the club and several players who have been forced to retire, and they have all been big parts of what we've done at Sandy Park.

"All these things should play their part in motivating us, and that has to be the bigger side of the balance than what happened against Sale.

"I am a pretty simple guy when it comes to what makes me happy and what upsets me on a rugby pitch. I know if the guys are giving their all, and if they are, then I am prepared to take whatever result comes on the chin."

A Quins triumph would set-up a potential play-off eliminator at home to Bath next Saturday, and they are buoyed for the trip to Devon by fly-half Nick Evans and wing Tom Williams both returning from injury.

Evans replaces Ben Botica, while Williams takes over from ankle injury victim Charlie Walker, who is unlikely to play again this season.

One other change sees lock Nick Kennedy in for George Robson, who suffered a knock during Quins' Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final defeat against Northampton eight days ago.

"We are in the Champions Cup for next year - we've got that ticked - and we want to get into the top four," Quins rugby director Conor O'Shea said.

"We've been playing excellent rugby during the past few weeks, and we know exactly what we need to do."


From Belfast Telegraph