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Baxter left purring after his youngsters hammer Welsh

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

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"Things went perfectly," declared a delighted Rob Baxter in the wake of a much-changed Exeter Chiefs side's LV= Cup thrashing of London Welsh.

It is easy to see why the head coach was so pleased, with a number of the club's young guns seizing the opportunity to impress with stellar displays as Baxter rested a host of first-team players.

Full-back and man of the match Jack Nowell dotted down twice in the rout at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford, while fly half Henry Slade kicked 12 points in an impressive display.

The youngsters were ably supported by the elder statesmen of the team, as Nic Sestaret helped himself to two tries and Mark Foster, one.

Having changed the entire starting XV from the previous week's victory over Worcester, and coming up against a strong Welsh side, Baxter admitted playing so many youngsters did represent a risk, but he left purring by his side's showing come the final whistle.

"With the LV Cup you never quite know how it is going to go," said Baxter. "You don't know what the opposition is going to put out, how they are going to play, or how the guys you have put together are going to work.

"We came up against a strong London Welsh side, which was exactly what we wanted, and we played some superb rugby and ran in some tries.

"In some ways, the weekend could not have gone better. We have managed to rest some of the guys who have had a lot of game time recently, but also played some of those young guys who have not had much game time either."

This was by no means an easy test for a young Chiefs side – amongst whom Will Carrick-Smith, Justin Blanchet, Joel Conlon and Slade were all making their debuts – but it was one they passed with flying colours.

Gordon Ross and Slade exchanged early penalties before the hosts took a 6-3 lead, while the Chiefs were unlucky not to have a try awarded by an sighted TMO.

The Chiefs then notched the first try of the match, as a fine run from wing Foster set up Carrick-Smith to score via Junior Poluleuligaga.

Ross struck again just before the interval to leave the Chiefs wondering how their attacking superiority had not yielded more points, but that was to change in the second 40.

Slade kicked a penalty before impressive centre Sam Hill dummied and set up a rampaging Foster to cross the whitewash.

Two more penalties from Ross' boot saw Welsh back in it, but overlap tries from Nowell and Sestaret saw the Chiefs extend their lead and bag a bonus point in the process.

Poluleuligaga then set up Sestaret for another, before Nowell managed a spectacular individual effort with some neat footwork.

Baxter was pleased to see his youngsters showcase their obvious potential, but he also praised his more experienced players in the XV in helping the younger players to shine.

"I have been aware of what a good player Jack is for quite a while now," confirmed Baxter.

"He played in the Amlin last year so it wasn't a debut for him, but he reminded us all of what a good player he is.

"Not only was his running strong and elusive, but his tackling and kicking were both excellent as well.

"We do like to play rugby at the Chiefs but kicking is an important part of a full back's game, and I thought Jack was very mature and did all the things full backs should do very well.

"Sam Hill also did very well for us and I thought our back row was superb too. Some of Dave Ewers' play was exceptional and I thought Justin Blanchet and Joel Conlon were superb, while Will Carrick-Smith is also looking a real player."

Baxter continued: "I was also really pleased with the way some of our more experienced players like Mark Foster and Nic Sestaret out on the wings came together and put in a great team performance.

"Basically, I was really impressed with how the young players came on and impressed and how the older players helped them to play well."

Prop Hoani Tui also enjoyed a 25-minute run-out towards the end of the game for his first appearance of the season.

The New Zealander is recovering from a hamstring injury sustained in pre-season, and his return marked the icing on the cake in what was a near-perfect weekend for Baxter's men.

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