Exeter boss Rob Baxter relieved to start Champions Cup campaign with a win


Exeter boss Rob Baxter hailed a “vital” victory for his team as the Chiefs began their European Champions Cup campaign with a 24-15 win against Glasgow.

In doing so, the Aviva Premiership champions ended Glasgow’s unbeaten start to the season and set themselves up nicely for a Pool Three clash in Montpellier next weekend.

“We’ve got the four points, we’ve got the win in the first round, which is vital,” rugby director Baxter said.

“We didn’t get out of the blocks as well as Glasgow did, but we have come through, got the win and denied them anything out of the game.

“That gives us a great foothold in the pool, and now we have got eight days to recharge ourselves emotionally and physically to go out there (to Montpellier) and perform all over again.

“The really important thing is to make sure we are not chasing too hard after the first two rounds.”

Exeter had lost three of their previous four opening games in Europe, and they made a terrible start at Sandy Park as Glasgow surged 10 points clear through a Tommy Seymour try, plus a Finn Russell conversion and penalty.

But the Chiefs, unbeaten at home in all competitions since last December, wiped out the deficit when prop Harry Williams and lock Jonny Hill claimed tries during a dominant nine-minute spell, with fly-half Gareth Steenson converting both scores.

And Glasgow, who lost Scotland international hooker Fraser Brown to injury early in the action, were ultimately defeated despite wing Lee Jones’ 44th-minute touchdown as a Steenson penalty and number eight Sam Simmonds’ late converted touchdown saw Exeter home.

It was Glasgow’s first defeat following six successive Guinness PRO14 wins, yet they could still feature heavily in the Pool Three mix.

“I thought the players were really good at being themselves, and they showed the qualities they show every week in the Premiership,” Baxter added.

“It was a bit harum-scarum at times – Glasgow are a good side – but overall, did we do most things well? Yes. Can we be better? Yes. There were a lot of positives there for us.

“At this stage, I am not concerned with what January (the final rounds of pool fixtures) brings. I said to the players I was only concerned about what today brought, because we wanted to get out of the blocks.”

Glasgow head coach Dave Rennie, meanwhile, confirmed that Brown had suffered a knee injury just four weeks before Scotland begin their autumn Test series against Samoa at Murrayfield.

“Fraser got a knock a couple of minutes earlier,” Rennie said. “He tried to soldier on. It is a knee. We are not sure about the severity of it.

“They (Exeter) played a lot of territory and choked us down our end of the field. They did it well.

“It was an arm wrestle. At 17-15, we had a couple of opportunities, and we just couldn’t hang on to enough ball and build enough pressure. They ended up winning the territory battle.

“We are disappointed not to get any points tonight. We put a lot of effort out there, and we fell short.”

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