Baxter rallies retreating Chiefs with hope of new adventures

Gloucester 37 Exeter 23
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The Independent Online

Such is the progress made this season by Exeter Chiefs that it is easy to forget they were not even in the Premiership this time last season. However, even their coach, Rob Baxter, has been forced to issue a reminder to his players, who cannot afford to play in second gear again as they did at Kingsholm.

The Devon club have defied the doubters as they desperately battle for recognition within the top flight. Victory on the opening weekend against Gloucester led to a run of success that gave rise to levels of expectancy the Chiefs are now struggling to live up to, following a third successive league defeat.

Having reached seventh position on the back of heart and courage, those virtues were sadly missing at Kingsholm until too late. Baxter said: "Perhaps there was too much expectancy after we got those early wins, but we told the players from day one to enjoy the adventure and we must not let that change. I'm not overly concerned about the recent results. If we start taking things like this too seriously, we're going to heap a lot of pressure on ourselves. We're still a very young team in terms of the Premiership, this was our first visit to Kingsholm. Next time we will be better."

At times Gloucester were breathtaking, with Rory Lawson and Olly Morgan scoring tries that started close to their own try-line. James Simpson-Daniel claimed the third before Charlie Sharples finished off Luke Narraway's clever play to clinch the bonus. But there were lapses, too, allowing Tom Johnson to score an opportunist try, while Sireli Naqelevuki ran in two more either side of Gloucester's fifth, by Akapusi Qera.

Gloucester: Tries: Morgan, Lawson, Sharples, Simpson-Daniel, Qera; Conversions Burns 2, Taylor; Penalties Burns 2. Exeter: Tries Johnson, Naqelevuki 2; Conversion Steenson; Penalties Steenson 2.

Gloucester: O Morgan; C Sharples (T Taylor, 65), M Tindall (capt), E Fuimaono-Daniel (H Trinder, 53); F Burns, R Lawson (D Lewis, 68); N Wood (P Capdeville, 65), S Lawson (O Azam, 65), P Doran-Jones, W James, A Brown, P Buxton (A Strokosch, 72), L Narraway, A Hazell (A Qera, 60) Exeter L Arscott; M Foster, J Shoemark (P Dollman, 60), S Naqelevuki, N Sestaret; G Steenson (R Davis, 77), H Thomas (J Poluleuligaga, 49); B Sturgess, C Whitehead (S Alcott, 47), H Tui (C Budgen, 50), T Hayes (capt), J Hanks (C Slade, 55), T Johnson (D Ewars, 66), R Baxter, J Scaysbrook.

Referee M Fox (Leicestershire).