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Rob Baxter looks at bigger picture despite run of one win in nine league and cup matches

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 18, 2013

Exeter Chiefs

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Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter says his side "must not get desperate" in their bid to end their recent poor run of results in the Aviva Premiership.

A 31-11 defeat at Saracens on Saturday means the Chiefs have failed to win any of their last five games in the league – their worst run in the competition since being promoted to the top flight in 2010.

Only one victory in nine league and cup fixtures does not make pleasant reading, but they have a chance to improve on that record when a London Welsh side fighting for Premiership survival visit Sandy Park on Saturday.

"It is getting a little frustrating, but you sometimes have to stop and look at the bigger picture," said Baxter.

"We have not won in five Premiership games, but there is a very late draw in there against Bath, quite a late loss away at Gloucester, and there are reasons for some of those results.

"The key for us is not to get so desperate hunting for a win that we don't play in the right manner, and we have to make sure we play in the right manner when we face London Welsh. If we play in the correct way, the results will come, and we have just got to keep faith with that and keep working hard.

"I think we've got to avoid becoming a desperate team, and just keep understanding the little bits that add up to a big performance.

"We were second best in areas of our game against Saracens, and sometimes you have just got to take it on the chin. It is not the end of the world, it is something that happened, and we have got to move on."

Exeter failed to ruin Saracens' party as they played the first Premiership game on an artificial pitch at their new Allianz Park home.

"We got taught a few lessons, probably a little bit with individual physicality, but also across the board as a team," said Baxter. "There were some decent individual performances, and some decent individual moments.

"We didn't lose every collision and we didn't lose every bit of contact, but, as a team, Saracens enforced their game-plan on us, and enforced their physicality to a degree we just couldn't handle in the end.

"Fair play to Saracens – that's what makes them very good at what they do; we knew what was coming, and we didn't deal with it well enough."

Exeter only trailed 7-3 at the interval, and clung to some hope of completing the double over the 2011 Premiership champions, after beating them 14-12 at Sandy Park in September, but they should have been further behind at that stage.

"Charlie Hodgson missed a few kicks at goal, but in that early period of the first half we didn't really play how we said we were going to," said Baxter. "We said we had to play a bit more territory and not overplay, because playing a lot of rugby against Saracens is what can kill you, and yet we played off numerous set pieces almost until we got turned over.

"That put us under a little bit of pressure, but we weathered that a little bit, with Saracens making mistakes, really, but in the second half they tightened that area of their game up.

"Their individual ball carriers, their work-rate at chasing kicks and getting at us defensively saw them start to control the game, and, once they controlled territory, it was only going to be a matter of time, really, before they scored tries."

It was a disappointing first experience for Exeter of playing a competitive match on a plastic pitch, and Baxter said: "We will have a chat with the guys in a day or two and find out how they have recovered from it, and what they felt about it on the day.

"After that result, I guess my preference would have been for it to be a howling gale and a mud bath out there!

"It is what it is, you have just got to get on with it, and we have played on it now."

Meanwhile, Exeter have missed out in their bid to sign former England Saxons fly-half Ryan Lamb from Northampton Saints, with the 26-year-old believed to be heading for Leicester Tigers.

The Chiefs are seeking a replacement for Ignacio Mieres, who is joining Premiership rivals Worcester Warriors next season.

In Pictures: Saracens v Exeter Chiefs

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