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

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'