Baxter insists Exeter will learn

Date published: May 28 2016

Rob Baxter admits his side's slow start both cost them the game but was also a necessary learning curve after their second-half comeback at Twickenham.

Alec Hepburn and Jack Nowell went over for the Chiefs to trim a 23-3 lead for Saracens to just three points at the close of the second half 

"Is there anything that I can say or do or could we have had anything different before hand? I don’t think so. I think that we needed that first half-hour of a final, that’s the easiest way for me to wrap that up," Baxter said.

"We needed that and what they felt like and the experiences of that to learn. I’ve said to the players that a lot of teams, especially when that happens in the first half-hour end up taking the whole game to learn from what they are doing and we didn’t.

"We ended the first-half pretty well and I think that gave us great confidence in what we wanted to do and I think that we just got better through the game. 

"I think that we dropped into the danger of waiting for the next thing to happen or expecting the next thing to happen a little bit too much rather than just dealing with what was in front of us. I think that just took enough off us for a very good side, I think that when you play in finals the most important team to talk about is the winner.

"That gave Saracens the ins that they wanted and the ins that they worked very hard for to ultimately hurt us and they did it very well. It is what they are very, very good at."

Baxter insisted that Exeter weren't overawed by the game and that they had stayed focus in the build-up despite many players making their first appearance in the Premiership final.

"I don’t think it was about the size of the occasion, it’s just being here," Baxter added.

"It’s a big final and to be fair I don’t think that it hurt us in our physicality or our focus I thought that they players were fantastically focused this morning, they were great coming in here and no-one was walking round the pitch taking selfies, smiling, joking and laughing thinking that it was fantastic to be here. The guys were focused on playing a big game of rugby and ultimately we have."

Those tough lessons, and the ones to come, Baxter believes will all help Exeter kick on to compete in many more finals to come.

He explained: "We’ve come pretty close today, we’re not getting much wrong, and that should give us fantastic belief to just keep pushing things a little bit harder and keep getting better a little bit at a time and we’re going to get close to these king of games again.

"So, I’d like to say that we’ve learned all of the lessons that we are going to learn but I want us to get into a Champions Cup final in a few years and we probably need to learn a few more lessons before that. We might learn some tough lessons going away in a semi-final next year because we haven’t managed to get a home semi-final, we might be battling it out to get in the top six.

"There’s lots of lessons we’re going to have to learn, we might for the first time lose our first 6 games of a Premiership season, we’ve never had to deal with that either.

"There are lots of things we’ve got to learn to deal with but we will because that’s what we do."