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Exeter Chiefs still in chase for Heineken Cup

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 25, 2013

Exeter Chiefs try scorer Jack Nowell (left) is congratulated by Ben Moon and Will Chudley (right) during the Devon side's victory over London Welsh on Saturday picture: Mat Mingo/Pinnacle

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Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter is targeting the teams above his side in the Aviva Premiership after a stunning return to form against London Welsh over the weekend.

Chiefs ran five tries past the Exiles in a 47-16 victory at Sandy Park to end a five-game winless run in the top flight.

They remain eighth in the table, just a point behind Bath in seventh spot and eight points behind fourth-placed Gloucester, as the race for Heineken Cup qualification and the Premiership play-offs intensifies.

Baxter said: "It just freshens the season up for us and keeps things exciting.

"There are still plenty of Premiership games left. It is nice to be thinking about where we could really go if we put together some good performances, rather than worrying about what we might get caught up in.

"It was starting to play on a few people's minds – probably wrongly because we still have a lot of points on the table in front of us.

"It was an important win to get under our belts. We have had a couple of nervy performances and we were nervy for the first quarter of the game against Welsh as well."

Chiefs led 19-9 at half-time following Jack Yeandle's opening try, but four more scores in the second half from Tom Hayes, Damian Welch, Sireli Naqelevuki and Jack Nowell made the game safe.

Baxter said: "It took us a little while to settle in but once we got control of the breakdown – a key area that we were struggling in for the first 20 minutes – we created some good phase play and we looked a good side. By the end, London Welsh couldn't hold on to us.

"You always are disappointed to concede a try but the reality is London Welsh are a very competitive side. If you look at their results in recent weeks, they don't often get beaten by large scores and few people score bonus points against them.

"They are a tough side to play against and the biggest compliment I can pay them is that every breakdown is tough. Ultimately, a little bit of tiredness came into their game. We looked fit and strong in that last half an hour and we really rammed things home.

"It does get a little bit difficult, the scoreboard can put pressure on you. But, once we got a gap, London Welsh had to do more and it got tougher for them."

Hoani Tui, Jason Shoemark and Dean Mumm all left the field with injuries but Baxter expects none of them to be serious.

"They all came off with knocks but the guys that went on injected something into the game and that is what you have to do," said Baxter.

"The bench have to come on and add things and they did. We got a good batch of try-scorers today.

"We went from Jack Nowell and Sireli Naqelevuki at one end to Jack Yeandle at the other – one who is a Fijian international and other two are local guys.

"That is the sort of balance we want to have here and the blend worked well. What you saw from us is that we got the ball to the men in try-scoring positions effectively."

"You saw was us taking a lot of the opportunities we created. When you get those opportunities finished off, the scoreboard just blossoms and that is what happened to us. We didn't finish every one of them, but we finished enough to get the points."

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