Opposition view: Exeter boss Baxter gives credit to Saints and their supporters

Rob Baxter gave plenty of credit to Saints after his Exeter side narrowly edged them out at Franklin's Gardens on Sunday afternoon.

Monday, 7th June 2021, 2:25 pm
Updated Monday, 7th June 2021, 2:26 pm
Rob Baxter

The Chiefs produced their biggest ever Premiership comeback to turn around an 18-0 half-time deficit and deliver a 29-26 win.

Saints had roared into the lead despite losing David Ribbans to a red card after just 13 minutes.

And Chris Boyd's side continued to battle hard in the second period, scoring through Mike Haywood, who made it 26-19 to the hosts.

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But Exeter just had enough as they responded with their fourth try of the game before a Joe Simmonds penalty six minutes from time earned the win.

"The good thing is that when you have a first half like that, a second half like that and a season like we've had - you know there's no big issue, it's purely a mental thing," Baxter said.

"The good thing about a mental thing is you can wake up tomorrow and it can be gone, or you can let it drag on.

"The important thing for us is to address how we turned up for this game and to make sure we deal with that openly and honestly.

"But we do also have to acknowledge Northampton caused us a lot of problems - they came at us very hard.

"The support was fantastic, it really energised them and the way they played, and you can see what rugby can get like when momentum builds against you.

"Despite the red card, Northampton were very energetic and they particularly went at us around the breakdown area, where we were uncharacteristically poor.

"I am going to talk to the players about why we went off plan so quickly because it happened at the first scrum of the game and continued through the whole first half.

"It took us until half-time to re-establish being Exeter Chiefs again."

So just why did Baxter feel his side were so far off the pace in the first period?

"It's impossible for me to say - you can't drop into the mind of a player," he said.

"Watching it, I would have to ask 'did we turn up expecting such a physical game and expecting to have to work so hard?'.

"Or did we turn up and the weather is nice, the pitch is firm, lovely conditions and thinking it was going to be a nice game of rugby, everyone runs around and we see what happens at the end?

"That can be a real mental problem for you because Northampton targeted a few areas, came at us hard and created real issues for us.

"It took us a while to start to deal with it."