Baxter buoyed by Exeter signs

PA Sport
Rob Baxter's Exeter take on London Welsh on Sunday
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Rob Baxter's Exeter take on London Welsh on Sunday

Exeter boss Rob Baxter believes the Chiefs have shown highly-promising signs after embarking on a third season of top-flight rugby that will also include their Heineken Cup debut.

Baxter's men head to newly-promoted London Welsh on Sunday on the back of crushing Sale Sharks and collecting a point from unbeaten Premiership leaders Northampton.

"We are looking at the bigger picture all the time," Baxter said. "We beat Sale by a bigger degree than ever before (43-6) in our opening game, then we went to Northampton and put in our best performance ever up there. So at this stage, we have moved forward from last year. Now it's my job and that of all the coaches to keep that progression moving on as high a curve as we can."

London Welsh, in contrast, have experienced a difficult start to life as a Premiership club, losing their first two games and conceding 78 points.

But Baxter added: "I have watched their games so far, and I can see they are learning as they go along.

"All they have to do is make sure they learn at a speed that is quick enough to keep them competitive.

"They are a good side, like everyone at this level, and they are pretty solid up-front, particularly in the scrum, which always gives you a way into the game.

"They also play a pressure defence with some big hitters in there who can put pressure on you around the contact area, so all those things can add up if things go right for you.

"Right now, they've come up against two very good sides (Leicester and Harlequins), so my job on Sunday is to make sure they come up against a third very good side."

Exeter will be without wing Josh Tatapu for their trip to Oxford. Tatapu broke his ankle during last Sunday's defeat at Northampton, so Ian Whitten moves to the wing and Sireli Naqelevuki starts in midfield.

Welsh, meanwhile, have called up wing Nick Scott instead of Joe Ajuwa as their solitary change after last week's heavy defeat against Quins.

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