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Baxter ‘quietly satisfied’ with victory

Rob Baxter and his team admitted they had been left "quietly satisfied" after they secured a first-ever Aviva Premiership win at champions Northampton Saints.

Converted first half tries from Luke Cowan-Dickie and Thomas Waldrom (2) paved the way for a fifth top flight win of the campaign – and moved Baxter’s side into second spot, just two points behind their hosts who despite a strong second half display eventually went down 24-18.

Tom Stephenson and Jamie Elliott claimed Northampton’s tries on the night, whilst fly-half Stephen Myler weighed in with the remainder of their points through two penalties and a conversion.

However, it was never enough to deny Baxter’s men who will now ready themselves for back-to-back encounters at home to Wasps and Saracens.

Afterwards, Baxter reflected on side’s latest success, saying: "It’s quite interesting really, looking at the boys right now, they feel the way I feel, which is quietly satisfied. It shows they appreciate if you going to beat Northampton away at Northampton, you have to make the most of your opportunities.

"We’re very aware they were missing a few players because of the time of year and international call-ups, but if you want to have a good season and you want to progress, when you get an opportunity to play the top sides, you have to take it.

"The pleasing thing for me is there was an opportunity there tonight and we have taken it with two hands. However, none of the boys are crowing about it as they appreciate there will be a time when we play Northampton full on and with all their players available – and that’s something I will look forward to especially.

"As I said, this match is more about quiet satisfaction and a job well done. To be fair to the players, they’ve talked all week about implementing a game plan and what they knew they had to do to win – and they’ve done that almost to the letter."

Baxter added: "Obviously you don’t want to concede tries or penalties, but I thought we controlled the game and territory very well and we frustrated Northampton into doing things which suited us, more than them. It was interesting to hear their crowd get on their backs about the amount of kick tennis that was going on, but when you stand on the pitch here now you can see it’s difficult to play and get the ball through hands.

"I thought the way we controlled the game for large parts was very good and it was nice to see us stick at a percentage game because if there is one thing we have criticised for – and at times rightly so – it’s that we will run the ball a bit more when we should really have been kicking.

"I thought we did it perfectly and we almost kicked faultlessly at the right time. That created pressure and when you do that you then have to take your opportunities, which we did."

Exeter’s win means they have now won five of their last six games in all competitions, the sole blemish being a last-gasp defeat to French Top14 side Bayonne in their opening European Challenge Cup fixture.

Baxter admits he is keen to see his side continue to perform to the current levels, but know tougher tests lie in store over the remainder of the season.

"We know we will face a much different battle against Northampton later in the season," said Baxter. "However, this was a very important four points for us and it keeps us at the right end of the table. Now we’ve got a few days to recover and then get ourselves in the best possible position to prepare for what will be a very tough game at home to Wasps next week.

"Again we have another opportunity as our recovery process is a little longer than Wasps, so again it’s important we make the most of that this week."

One man sure to feature in that contest is two-try hero Waldrom, who took his season’s tally to six with his double at Franklin’s Gardens.

Quizzed on the impact the England international had made at Sandy Park, Baxter was quick to praise not only the former Leicester Tigers forward, but also his other summer recruits, all of whom have settled in nicely to life in Exeter.

"The media tend to question half the signings I make until they start playing, but we knew Tom would suit us down the ground," continued Baxter. "We knew he was a great ball player, so there’s no real surprise that he is thriving for us.

"He’s enjoying his rugby, he trains well and he wants to be out on the pitch, so that’s a nice thing to hear as a coach. At the same time, all the new guys that we have brought in have added something to the mix, so we hope it continues."
 

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