Exeter Chiefs boss Rob Baxter refused to be too downcast despite seeing his side fall to back-to-back Aviva Premiership Rugby defeats after falling to defending champions Saracens at Sandy Park.
Last week Exeter lost against Wasps in Coventry and in repeat of last year’s Aviva Premiership Rugby Final against Sarries; the Chiefs were again on the losing side, going down 34-13.
Tries from Alex Lozowski, a double from Sean Maitland, Jackson Wray and Ben Spencer sealed the win for Mark McCall’s men and gave Baxter much to ponder after an early season dip in form.
Instead of focusing on the negatives though of the defeat, Baxter felt his side actually produced moments of magic against the defending champions but called on his team to be more clinical going forward.
“I’m obviously disappointed, you always are when you lose a game of rugby,” said Baxter.
“I’ve just said to the team not to be too disappointed because at times I saw some real quality from us. We need to make sure we don’t ignore those things; we don’t get too down because on another day those things work out for you and it’s a very different scoreline.
“I thought Saracens were very good, they were very clinical as well and I thought they capitalised on a slow start by us, which in a lot of ways created real pressure for us throughout the game.
“We were then always fighting, we starting a little sloppily and soft but once we started to be a bit tougher and more physical, it was a very even contest. There are bits we need to improve on.
“Things always get better when you knuckle down and keep working; we have some very important fixtures coming up and we need to keep improving.
“We want to get away from the bottom of the table as quickly as possible. We certainly didn’t captialise on every opportunity we created and at times we were a little sloppy.”
Exeter scored a try of their own late in the game as hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie bundled his way over for the Chiefs but for Saracens flanker Wray, it was the visitors’ defensive shift that had seen them claim the win.
Wray said: “It was a massive improvement from the first game, our intensity and accuracy was much better.
“We knew we had to be better to beat a quality side like Exeter, we know we always have massive games against them whether it’s at Sandy Park, our ground or at Twickenham.
“We’re pleased, I’m sure there will be areas of the game we’re disappointed with and need to improve on but to come down here and get a win is a massive achievement.
“Exeter likes to run with the ball and today they gave it a good go and we needed to be at our best defensively, we had to be on it. They caught us a few times but we’re pleased with how it went.
“We know we’re going to keep improving during the season and they’re only going to get better as well.
“Coming down here and getting a win is so difficult to do, not many people manage to achieve that. We took a lot of heat in our 22 and Exeter is very, very dangerous – we knew that was an area we need to front up in.”
Exeter: Dollman (Bodilly, 14); Turner, Devoto, Hill (Steenson, 60), Whitten; Slade, Chudley (Lewis, 60); Moon (Hepburn, 51), Cowan-Dickie (Yeandle, 68), Holmes (Williams, 49), Parling, Welch (Lees, 49), Armand, Salvi (Dennis, 55) Waldrom
Saracens: Goode; Ashton, Bosch (Tompkins, 75), Barritt, Maitland; Lozowski (Ellery, 80); Wigglesworth (Spencer, 62) Vunipola (Barrington, 66), George (Brits, 50), Du Plessis (Figallo, 41), Itoje, Hamilton (Rhodes, 55), Wray, Burger (Brown, 66), Vunipola
Tries: Cowan Dickie
Penalties: Slade 2
Tries: Lozowski, Maitland 2, Wray, Spencer
Conversions: Goode 3
Referee: JP Doyle