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Exeter Chiefs

Rob Baxter says lessons can be learned from thumping in Bayonne

Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter details his side will learn from their heavy 40-17 defeat away in Bayonne on Sunday night.

Exeter are in the midst of a rebuild this season, however they are firing on all cylinders. Rob Baxter’s side sit forth in the Premiership and have secured a home tie in the round-of-16 in the Champions Cup.

Whilst they might be flying high this year, Sunday’s thumping in France was the first time things haven’t gone their way in a while; and speaking to the media ahead of their clash with Saracens this weekend, Baxter explained his side will take away some tough lessons from the game.

“It was a really good example on if you don’t turn up emotionally and mentally in just the right spot against good teams, you get hurt.”

“The responsibility of things not going right in the middle of a game, they’re as much on me as they are on anybody else. So making sure we took the opportunity to talk it through was important. But again, these are very important learning experiences for us and ones that will only improve us.

He also cited that the playing group were pretty open with each other after the match.

“I think they were very aware when we got the changing room that we weren’t quite where we needed to be. They’re a pretty open and honest bunch. I didn’t lay on them too thick after the game.”

Rob Baxter breaks down the defeat to Bayonne.

Bath Rugby v Exeter Chiefs, Bath, UK – 2 Dec 2023 Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby, Rob Baxter during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bath Rugby and Exeter Chiefs at the Recreation Ground on 2 December 2023. Bath The Recreation Ground Somerset GBR Copyright: xTomxSandberg/PPAUKx PPA-072531

Sunday’s defeat in France was the Chiefs first loss in the Champions Cup this year.

Exeter have played some fantastic rugby this year, and had already downed Toulon, Munster and Glasgow to secure a home tie in the round-of-16.

They also showed glimpses of their best against Bayonne, but Rob Baxter broke down how missed opportunities ‘deflated’ his side.

“We got ourselves back on track just after half time and if anything we got the momentum of the game and scored two tries. We were on their try line and we failed to cross the line twice by losing the ball, and actually I think if one of those tries had gone in, it probably would have carried on in that vein.”

“You could just see we had a couple of minutes where we went ‘right, we’ve got to get back there again’ and then they scored a try and the game was technically over, wasn’t it? You could just see it was deflating for us.”

“We showed in flashes and in patches what we’re capable of doing if we get it right. So that was important for us to show the lads.”

Exeter now turn their attention back onto the Premiership as they take on defending champions Saracens.