Baxter: ‘The lads are ready to crack on’

Date published: May 18 2016

Rob Baxter is hoping that Exeter Chiefs will come up with their “best performance of the season” when they take on Wasps in the Premiership semi-final.

Exeter and Wasps will battle it out to reach the Premiership final at Twickenham on May 28.

Baxter admitted that despite the excellent support the Chiefs receive at Sandy Park, home advantage would count for little come kick-off on Saturday.

“It is the usual emotions before a big game – a bit nervous, a bit edgy, but excited at the same time,” Baxter said.

“The lads are ready to crack on. Training is getting in the way a little bit, which is a good thing in a lot of ways.

“It is about making sure that by the time Friday comes around, we are emotionally pretty much bang on, and then ready to turn up and put in what should be our best performance of the season if we want to get anything out of the game.

“We have got a good record here (at Sandy Park). It is great to be in front of our own supporters, but the truth is that home records don’t mean anything if you don’t turn up, get on with the game and play very well.”

Exeter and Wasps have already met several times this season, with the Chiefs getting the upper hand the last time out at Sandy Park in April with a 24-3 win. Wasps however pipped Exeter to the Champions Cup semi-finals after Jimmy Gopperth’s match-winning conversion.

Baxter knows there isn’t much of a gap between the two sides and that the semi-final could go either way.

“Both ourselves and Wasps probably know a fair bit about each other’s game-plan, so really there is the opportunity to bring in the odd little thing, and I think both of us will do that,” Baxter explained.

“But also, it is about us both trying to make the best of what we’ve got and the way we play, and not trying to find magic answers. A lot of the time in a game of rugby, there aren’t too many magical answers.

“The reality is that over 80 minutes, you probably have to win the work-rate battle and the physicality battle first and foremost.

“We will both be aiming to do that, and I think that ultimately is going to be the key – the energy and enthusiasm about the physical contest is what’s going to decide the game.

“If it’s tight – and I imagine a game between two good sides will be close for quite a while – a lot of the time, it is the team that breaks first and decides it has to try something a little bit different or just gets away from their plan that makes mistakes.

“When it has been tight these last couple of weeks, we’ve stuck at things.”