sport

Baxter: We'll enjoy final build-up

Rob Baxter has told his Exeter players to enjoy the build-up to the biggest match in the club's history, an LV= Cup final against Northampton.

The Devon side pulled off a 22-19 semi-final victory over Bath at the Recreation Ground, surviving a last-minute penalty by home fly-half Tom Heathcote which would have taken the tie into extra-time.

Full-back Luke Arscott scored two of Exeter's tries, Tongan wing Fetu'u Vainikolo a spectacular third from his own half and fly-half Henry Slade kicked two conversions and a penalty.

Baxter said: "I'm not going to go around saying 'Oh, it's just another game guys.' We're going to prepare like it's a massive cup game - because that's what it is.

"We're going to enjoy the week and getting ready for it. It's fantastic for our guys to be playing in cup finals. We said right from the start when we got into the Premiership, if we survived and worked hard there would be big games down the line - and this is one of them."

He added: "We'll keep our feet on the ground, though. There weren't masses of celebrations among the players. They realise they have got a very tough game against a very good Northampton side.

"We've scored plenty of tries against Northampton before at Sandy Park and that's what we've got to look to do. It makes us true to ourselves when we go after games and look to score tries."

Bath stunned Exeter with a try inside 30 seconds from number eight Leroy Houston and Baxter admitted it had been a "sucker punch".

He said: "We took time to recover but gradually we worked our way back into the game. You could feel that when we turned up - to sunshine and a firm ground - the game was always going to be decided by great breaks. And it went our way today.

"In the end, we stayed composed enough to maximise a couple of opportunities. We gave away a fair bit of ball but we are a team that can score tries.

"The momentum shifted a few times. It started with Bath and their try and shifted to us with Fetu'u Vainikolo's try which came a bit out of nowhere."

Bath head coach Mike Ford was not about to begrudge Exeter their victory.

"We wish them good luck in the final. We'll now have a week off to regroup, to get over the knocks and bruises and also to get mentally fresh for what's coming in the rest of the season," he said.

"That team was good enough to win. There were a load of opportunities where we could have created pressure and scored more points but we weren't able to control the ball at crucial periods of the first half.

"Second half, they scored two individual tries which put them on the front foot. Again, we nearly found a way at the end to get a draw. We're not too despondent because we've still got a lot to play for this year in the Amlin Cup and obviously the Premiership, which is massive to us."