sport

Baxter hails victorious Chiefs

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter believes winning the LV= Cup is a deserved reward for his players after all the hard work they've put in this season.

The Chiefs claimed their first piece of major silverware in front of their own fans at Sandy Park with a 15-8 victory over Aviva Premiership leaders Northampton.

Early tries in each half from Chris Whitehead and Dean Mumm served to delight a crowd of just over 10,000, though Samu Manoa scoring with 10 minutes left made for a nervy finish.

Baxter was full of praise for his players, particularly the forwards after they quelled the threat of a powerful Saints pack.

"What is pleasing for me is seeing the players rewarded for they hard work this season. I was a little worried when we didn't pull away with the lead but to be fair I thought we were magnificent today," he said.

"We did a lot of what we said we were going to do. I thought our forwards really fronted-up and that kept a lot of pressure off us in a lot of ways. We dealt with Northampton's very good maul, stood in front of them at scrum time and that kept us in the game.

"The conditions were perfect for us - this is Chiefs' time of year as I keep telling people - and we are proving that is the case. For me this is a nice little step which will build some momentum for the rest of the season.

"We'll give the boys a couple of days off now after a good night out. They need to enjoy this because when you work hard then you enjoy the good moments but they should enjoy it because they want more.

"I want them to get used to it because playing big games at this time of year is what it is all about. It was a big game at our ground, we had a lot of support here and they're rewarded today, just like the players."

Fallen

As for Northampton, they have now fallen at the final hurdle of the competition for the second time in three years - they were beaten by Leicester in the 2012 showpiece.

Saints boss Jim Mallinder had no complaints over the result after seeing his team's 13-match winning run come to an end.

"It was always going to be a big ask and we need to play at our best but unfortunately on this occasion we didn't," he said. "But we have other battles to fight and we are going to look forward to those.

"We were disappointed to lose but the LV= Cup is a good tournament for us and throughout the campaign as we have blooded lots of young players.

"We had a poor start and they scored from the driven line out but when we did get some pressure there we didn't take our opportunities to score. We came back into it in the second half and scored a good try towards the end but it was a little too late.

"We still have plenty to play for and the Premiership is always important so we need to make sure that we keep cracking on, winning some games and try to get a home semi-final because that is very important."