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Ambitious Exeter Chiefs have big decisions to make ahead of London Irish trip

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 23, 2012

Rob Baxter's Exeter Chiefs have yet to record a win on their travels in the  Aviva Premiership this campaign  Picture: Mat Mingo/Pinnacle

Rob Baxter's Exeter Chiefs have yet to record a win on their travels in the Aviva Premiership this campaign Picture: Mat Mingo/Pinnacle

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Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has urged his side to show ambition when they travel to London Irish this weekend.

Baxter believes this is the time of year when good seasons are formed. His sixth-placed side have made a solid start to their Aviva Premiership campaign but need to improve if they are to match or exceed last season's outcome.

Although their form at Sandy Park has frequently been impressive, they have yet to record a league win away from home.

"It was around about this time last year that we sat down as a team and said we were solid and doing OK and thought about what we were going to try to achieve," said Baxter. "We did that maybe a little bit after Christmas last year, this year we are starting to talk about it a little bit earlier.

"Ambitious teams have to target games at this time of the year to establish the number of points you need to push on. We will go up there absolutely flat out looking to put in a big performance and get after it.

"When we do that we are a good side. When we go away from home and have a bit of a look at the opposition and take a while to settle, we look edgy and shaky sometimes.

"We talked a lot about trying to make the game about ourselves, I'm sure that is what London Irish will be doing as well – that is the battle to be won."

The Chiefs have not played a Premiership game for nearly three weeks, due to their commitments in the LV= Cup.

However, two wins in that competition against London Welsh and Ospreys means Baxter faces some tough selection decisions this week after some promising displays from his younger players.

He was unwilling to say who might have forced their way into his plans.

"It's probably difficult to say – I think everybody has impressed me," said Baxter. "They were two performances probably defined more by the team more than anything else.

"By that, I mean the way they came together, trained and prepared.

"There was a lot of hard, physical collisions in both games against two big, strong sides and eventually we came through by winning more of those instances.

"Looking at the performances of the young guys was a big boost for the club and to see guys returning from injury and some of the senior squad who have not had so much game time proving their worth was a win-win situation across the board.

"It has been a little bit difficult to select the side, primarily because we went into the LV= Cup games on the back of a good performance. Those guys are on form and played a lot of good rugby for us.

"The way we work here is that if you work to earn ownership of the shirt, you keep it unless someone rips it away from you.

"There will be one or two changes to the squad based on LV= Cup performances."

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