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Exeter Chiefs determined to get top-flight campaign back on track at Saracens

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 15, 2013

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has noticed a certain intensity building in their training this week ahead of the trip to Saracens picture: Dan Mullan/Pinnacle

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Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has noticed a glint in his players' eyes this week that suggests their recent winless run in the Aviva Premiership could be about to end.

Baxter's men have failed to win in the league since their 30-23 victory over London Wasps on December 1.

Indeed, their only win in any competition since then came the weekend before last in the LV= Cup against Northampton Saints.

There have been many near-misses and a draw against Bath – the only team in the top flight they have yet to beat – and Baxter feels Exeter's fortunes are about to change ahead of their league clash with Saracens at Allianz Park.

He said: "I have had a good feeling about the players this week. I think they are determined to do well.

"Winning and losing is one thing but good levels of performance are what you have to look for because that is what decides where you end up over a season.

"I looked at the way we trained this week and the look in the guys' eyes and I think we are ready for a good game of rugby."

Chiefs' recent troubles in closing out games has not dented Baxter's belief in his side. He said: "You look at teams on losing runs of games and you can think they are struggling a little bit.

"At the end of the day, results-wise, we are. We are not knocking over the wins that we would like but I think most who watch us know that we are ticking along pretty well, it is just the final one or two things that have not quite gone our way.

"You think of Gloucester away, who are flying in the Premiership, and we probably should have won that game but lost by two points late in the game. We drew against Bath very late in the game and we probably put in as good a half as we could against Sale without scoring another ten or 15 points.

"There is some frustration but that isn't the worst thing, if you want to move forward as a side. We are competent, we are competitive in most areas of the game and teams never really get away from us."

Last Friday's game at Sale Sharks is certainly one that Chiefs should have won. But Baxter is confident his side can replicate their 14-12 success against Sarries earlier this season.

He said: "Going away to Saracens is probably not the easiest way to bounce through an away loss but, at the same time, we have played well against Saracens in the past.

"You have to stay in the fight for a long time against Saracens, that is how it tends to be.

"Very few teams ever get away from them on the scoreboard and you just have to keep fighting to keep it close and take the one or two moments in the game that can go your way.

"We played very well here against them for an extended period and we forced a try-scoring moment that decided the difference between the two sides.

"We are very aware of the quality of how they play and how well they defend. We are also aware that, when we get our game plan right, we are a pretty good side."

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