Baxter wants Exeter to take step forward at Gloucester

exeter ChiefslogoRob Baxter takes a changed Exeter Chiefs squad up to Kingsholm tonight looking to build upon some of the key elements which he feels went missing in last week’s frustrating 33-21 loss to London Irish.

It has been a faltering start to the Premiership season for the Chiefs, losing two matches in front of their loyal fans at Sandy Park, something Baxter admits is disappointing.

As they travel to face their West Country rivals it will be paramount for the Chiefs Director of Rugby, that the building blocks of a performance are evident from the first whistle.

“I don’t feel like we’re in a crisis because we’ve lost one game after winning three,” said Baxter, “The drama for me a little bit is the performance, but we’ve had a few days to put that right and that’s what’s great about sport.”

Gloucester are undefeated in their past four outings and appear to have found a winning formula, combining a physical pack with some sparkling backs, that will be pleasing to the Shed faithful.

Baxter is full of praise for the Cherry and Whites and is in no doubt of the tough physical test they will pose in front of their raucous fans under Friday night lights at Kingsholm.

“In some ways they look like they’ve gone a little bit back to Gloucester DNA, scrummaging, mauling, being solid in defence and making you pay from five metres.

“If we don’t want to maul, if we don’t want to be tough up front then it’s going to be a long day, because they’re getting some momentum from their pack, and they are finishing off that momentum with scores.

“Alongside that, they have got a couple of backs in that back division who can hurt you from anywhere, they’ve got plenty to play for, and it makes it even more of a challenge for us, but at the end of the day every game in the Premiership should be a challenge and you’ve got to enjoy that challenge.”

It will be a changed side that take the field at Kingsholm, as the Chiefs bid farewell to some of their frontline stars who head off to England camp ahead of the Autumn International Series. Baxter won’t expect anything less than a solid performance from his charges, insisting that it doesn’t matter who takes the field in that prized Chiefs jersey.

“I don’t think this weekend is about experience, I think it’s about guys getting out there, running around and performing like an Exeter Chiefs team, that’s the messages they’re getting this week. I don’t really care who’s on the field, they are an Exeter Chiefs player they know how to play, and they’ve just got to go out there and show that it means a lot to them. If we do that, we’ll have taken a step forward and that’s all you can do.”

That isn’t to say that this is an Exeter team that lacks for power or experience. Jack Yeandle, retains his place at hooker and will be looking to lead from the front as he regains the captain’s armband from England-bound centre Henry Slade.

Sam Skinner, fresh from his inclusion in the Scotland squad, takes his place on the flank, alongside the experienced Don Armand, and the dynamic Richard Capstick, forming an imposing back row.

Behind the scrum, Harvey Skinner is brought back into the No.10 jersey in the place of Joe Simmonds, and will be looking to continue the excellent early season form that his seen him earn a run of games at fly half. He’ll be looking to bring the physical centre partnership of Ollie Devoto and Tom Hendrickson into the game, the latter fresh off the back of a gutsy performance against London Irish.

It’s a dangerous Chiefs back three, with Facundo Cordero aiming to maintain his try scoring form that has earned him a first call up into the Argentinian national squad, alongside club legend Jack Nowell, who is returning to fine form after an injury disrupted opening to the season, and Stuart Hogg, in his final match for the Chiefs before he too heads up to join Scotland ahead of the Autumn Internationals.

It promises to be a big day for young Ollie Burrows, the Wales U20’s hooker hailing from the famous Neath Athletic rugby club, will be hoping to make his Chiefs debut off the bench, and he’s joined by fellow countryman Christ Tshiunza, fresh from his call up to the full Welsh International Squad.

For Baxter however, different personnel doesn’t change the expectation.

“We’re going there with every intention to win the game, to do what we think we need to do to challenge Gloucester, the key for us to focus on is the foundational elements in our own game.”


15. S Hogg
14. J Nowell
13. T Hendrickson
12. O Devoto
11. F Cordero
10. H Skinner
9. J Maunder

1. A Hepburn
2. J Yeandle (C)
3. H Williams
4. W Witty
5. S Lonsdale
6. S Skinner
7. D Armand
8. R Capstick


16. O Burrows
17. B Moon
18. J Isofa-Scott
19. C Tshiunza
20. R Tuima
21. S Hidaglo-Clyne
22. J Simmonds
23. I Whitten

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