sport

Baxter: Chiefs will learn

Rob Baxter insists Exeter will learn from their Heineken Cup defeat to Clermont Auvergne.

The French giants ran in six tries to end the Chiefs' mathematical hopes in Europe and stretch their own winning run to 54 matches at Stade Marcel Michelin.

Exeter trailed 20-3 at the break but put up a brave fight in the third quarter. They dominated both territory and possession but were unable to turn pressure into points before Clermont turned the tide and the floodgates fully opened.

Baxter said: "It's not the big drama some people might think it is. There are some very good teams in the competition and Clermont are certainly one of them.

"We had our moments in the game and we didn't quite see them off. The reality of it is we have come up against a very good side, not only with very good individual players but a team that play a good brand of rugby.

"I haven't got too many points but there are lessons to learn. In the first half we were playing the scoreboard and not what was in front of us.

"We were noticeably better in the first quarter of the second half. We were getting used to the pace of the game, defensively we were holding things together and the set-piece was going well.

"I'm a bit disappointed with us crumbling in the final quarter. But we were a bit unfortunate.

"We made a substitution and the guy got injured, we picked up another injury in a similar position and all of a sudden we're trying to defend against a team going for a bonus point with a hooker in the back row, two fly-halves on the pitch and a centre on the wing.

"It's been a real tough lesson for us but there's two ways you take it, you doubt yourself or look at fantastic results in the past and move on.

"We have to learn from this and improve instead of being down on ourselves. There's no instant fixes and we have to take steps."

Exeter face reigning champions Leinster at Sandy Park next Saturday, with the Dubliners in need of a victory to keep their European hopes alive.

It is a daunting challenge but Baxter is confident the Chiefs will be fired up.

He added: "I won't have to lift them at all. They are hurting from Clermont and are a proud bunch that will want to prove a point.

"Clermont is a fantastic place to play rugby and that was one of the most challenging matches we will encounter."