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Missed opportunities proved costly, says Exeter Chiefs head coach

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 22, 2012

Clermont Auvergne’s Julien Bonnaire goes over for a try in the Heineken Cup clash against Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park on Saturday. Picture: Phil Mingo/Pinnacle

Clermont Auvergne’s Julien Bonnaire goes over for a try in the Heineken Cup clash against Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park on Saturday. Picture: Phil Mingo/Pinnacle

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Exeter Chiefs head coach said missed opportunities cost his side a chance of beating Clermont Auvergne in their first home Heineken Cup match at Sandy Park.

The Chiefs lost 46-12 to the French giants despite leading 12-10 at half time after four successful penalty kicks from fly-half Gareth Steenson.

Baxter believes that advantage should have been more substantial after an impressive opening 40 minutes. His side conceded 36 unanswered points in the second half on Saturday.

"At half time, if I'm honest, I was thinking we were doing pretty well," he said. "But I was also sitting there wondering if we were going to rue these missed try-scoring opportunities. Ultimately, we did.

"I'm not going run away from the fact that lots of what we did was very good. We wanted to make it about us with the ball as possible.

"I think we did that really well for 50 of the 80 minutes but for half an hour there was a bit too much coming in the other direction.

"When we shake it down, we will rue the chances we should have scored in the first half when we had the momentum in the game and how we failed to stop Clermont almost right from the start of the second half."

The result makes progression from Group Five unlikely for the Chiefs. They also lost to Leinster in their opening group game.

The Heineken Cup resumes in December with two games against Scarlets, before return fixtures with Leinster and Clermont in January.

Baxter said: "It has never really been about being in or out of the competition or where the table lies for us. It has been about a huge opportunity to really attack things and enjoy a fantastic experience.

"We will go after the two Scarlets games in a couple of months' time absolutely flat out. That is what it is about for us.

"I've never been one to say we are anywhere near the finished article as a team.

"I've learned a fair bit and I know the players will have done. That is just another step along our journey. I'm not massively worried about the result. I know why certain things happened and there are things we can learn to deal with."

The Chiefs return to Aviva Premiership action next weekend with a trip to Bath, a side they have struggled against since promotion to the top flight. Baxter said: "That's our challenge, we have to turn up this week a better team.

"If we haven't learned from what happened, then it has been a waste of time. At the minute, I think we've had two very valuable games in the history of the club and we have to maximise every moment of them."

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