Exeter extend travel horizons to 'go for it' in Challenge Cup

Exeter coach Rob Baxter has his sights set on an Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final place, admitting his players are "going to go for it".

The Chiefs host struggling French side Bourgoin tonight, when victory would set up a probable Pool Three decider in France against Montpellier next weekend.

European success would continue Exeter's outstanding debut season as a Premiership club, having already beaten league opponents Gloucester, Saracens, Newcastle, Sale Sharks and Leeds Carnegie this term.

"A quarter-final could potentially be a very big game," Baxter said yesterday. "The most important thing is to be able to go to Montpellier with something to play for. To travel abroad with a real reason to play will be fantastic.

"We are in a good frame of mind as a team and we're relatively injury-free, so we are going to go for it. It is definitely more intense now, and the players understand that, but ambitious players want to play in big games."

Bourgoin, who this week appointed former the France international Laurent Seigne as their new coach after poor results on the domestic and European stages, currently prop up the group.

But Baxter added: "There is no distinct pattern to the way they play. They are very much a 'heads-up' rugby side, and that is their danger. We could get hit with something we are not prepared for.

"That said, we feel we've trained well and we are mentally shifting in the right direction with regards to reacting to different scenarios. A team that is going to do the unexpected is what we need to hone ourselves to that mental state, where you don't get caught for length-of-the-field tries like we did at Gloucester last weekend."

Harlequins travel to meet Italians Cavalieri today, when a bonus point win would make it mission accomplished and herald a Pool One decider against Bayonne at the Twickenham Stoop next Saturday.

Quins are currently one point behind the French club, who host Connacht tomorrow, and have named a strong line-up to visit the 6,500-capacity Stadio Lungobisenzio.

Wing Ugo Monye will make his 150th Quins appearance in a side that also includes his fellow England international Danny Care. The flanker Will Skinner is captain.

Gloucester's hopes of progressing from Pool Five suffered a huge blow after La Rochelle beat Agen on Thursday night, leaving the West Country club knowing that bonus point victories over Rovigo and Agen in their last two games will probably not be enough.

They should complete the first part of that task in Rovigo tomorrow, but La Rochelle only need to beat the Italians at home next week and a quarter-final place will be secured. Peter Buxton will captain Gloucester in a much-changed team from the one that beat Exeter six days ago, with the England centre Mike Tindall among those rested. "We have got a job to do and we've got to get five points in Rovigo," said the Gloucester head coach, Bryan Redpath. "It is about physicality and it is about the basics and execution – it's as simple as that."

Leeds Carnegie are also hanging on in Pool Four, but they need to beat the French heavyweights Stade Français in Paris tomorrow or face elimination. The backs Michael Stephenson and Lachlan MacKay are put of action through injury, but a powerful Leeds pack includes England forwards Steve Thompson and Hendre Fourie under the captaincy of lock Marco Wentzel.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss