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Richard Baxter knows the importance of a Exeter Chiefs victory against London Welsh

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 19, 2013

Richard Baxter. Picture by Pinnacle

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Exeter Chiefs back row Richard Baxter says it is important the players put last weekend's hefty defeat at Saracens quickly behind them as they prepare for a huge Sandy Park clash against London Welsh on Saturday.

The Chiefs went down 31-11 to the 2011 Aviva Premiership champions, who comfortably avenged their 14-12 loss in Devon last September.

It is now five league games without a win for the Chiefs, and that poor run has seen them slip eight points adrift of a top-six place in the table, which is where they need to be to stand a chance of securing a position in next season's Heineken Cup.

It is also a massive fixture for Welsh, who started the season in bright fashion but have not won a league game since December 1, and last Sunday's 26-25 home defeat to revitalised bottom side Sale Sharks has dragged them into relegation trouble, only three points above the drop zone.

"We are a bit disappointed with last Saturday's game, but you lose matches in the Premiership and Saracens are a very good side," said Baxter, who captained the Chiefs in the absence of usual skipper Tommy Hayes, who was only on the replacements' bench because he is struggling with a sore back.

"The most important thing is to analyse the game, work out what was good and what was bad, and move on to the next match."

Exeter only trailed 7-3 at the interval, but conceded three second-half tries as Saracens secured only their second four-try bonus point of the league season.

"Once Saracens got a little bit away from us and got the momentum, probably like a lot of sides in the Premiership when they get on a roll, their confidence went up and the passes started to stick," commented Baxter.

"They probably talked a bit about how to apply pressure on a side, and it is something we can learn from, but for us it is not about dwelling too much on the defeat, it is about preparing for London Welsh."

Exeter tackled their hearts out during the game, and kept going until the end, and that saw them claim a late reward with a try by Baxter himself, his second in the Premiership this season.

"I thought the effort the guys put in and our work rate was right up there," explained Baxter, who made his first-team debut for the Chiefs in 1997.

"What we have got to do is stick to our game-plan a little bit more and just keep concentrating on our jobs and doing the best we can.

"That's all we can do, and that's what we will do in training this week. Some games go against you, but we are playing in the Premiership against very good sides, and those things are going to happen.

"What's important is we bounce through it and get on with our next game."

Baxter's first Premiership try of the season came in the shock 25-24 defeat at London Welsh in September – a result that will give the Exiles confidence as they travel to Devon, despite losing their last five matches in the league.

"It will be another hard game, and that's the challenge and that's what being in the top league is all about," said the 34-year-old Baxter, who is out of contract this summer.

"Every week is a tough game and you have got to show the character to bounce through them."

Saturday's match was the first Premiership game played on an artificial 4G pitch, at Saracens' new Allianz Park home, and Baxter said his initial response to the surface was a positive one.

"My first impression about it is not too bad," said Baxter. "I have not picked up too many burns and scrapes, but it will be a day or so before you can really tell how sore the body is."

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