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Rob Baxter urges Exeter to have ‘belief’ against Toulouse in Champions Cup

Rob Baxter wants his side to use the experience of winning in France to get a result on Sunday (Richard Sellers/PA)
Rob Baxter wants his side to use the experience of winning in France to get a result on Sunday (Richard Sellers/PA)

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter wants his team to take the experience of winning in France into their tough Champions Cup meeting with Toulouse on Sunday.

The Chiefs fought back to beat Bath 21-15 last week to book their spot in the quarter-finals but now have the challenge of facing five-time champions Toulouse at the Stade Ernest-Wallon.

Exeter are underdogs heading into the clash but are familiar with the feeling of winning in France, having kicked off their Champions Cup campaign with a thrilling 19-18 victory over Toulon in December.

Baxter knows the size of the task ahead of his team but thinks the result earlier in the season has instilled the belief to do something similar this weekend.

Speaking at a press conference, Baxter said: “The Toulon game was something that created an element of belief of ‘we are doing the right things and heading in the right direction’ amongst the players and you need that.

Exeter Chiefs v Bath Rugby – Investec Champions Cup – Sandy Park
Exeter will gace Toulouse in the quarter-finals following their win over Bath (Robbie Stephenson/PA)

“I think it gives the players an element of belief that we can do it, go over there and play the big sides, but I also think it gives them a level of looking forward to it because, without doubt when you go and experience the atmosphere, the noise level at the end of the game was incredible for anyone who was there.

“That’s created the excitement and nervous anticipation around the squad this week in training which is exactly what you want to be.”

Exeter responded well to beat Bath on Saturday after they were thrashed 41-5 at the hands of Sale the week before.

Baxter revealed the players had clear-the-air discussions prior to their win last week, but the Chiefs boss now wants his side to back up the result with another good performance.

He added: “As a team the lads have got to do the hardest thing to do in sport and get to a really competitive level for two weeks running.

“At the same time that’s how you win trophies, winning trophies or big games is when you put back-to-back big performances in semi-final to final or last-16 to quarter-final, that’s how things have to happen if you want to win.”

France v South Africa – Rugby World Cup 2023 – Quarter Final – Stade de France
Exeter will have to deal with Dupont on Sunday (Adam Davy/PA)

France’s key man Antoine Dupont will be in action for Toulouse and will undoubtedly be highlighted as a key threat for Baxter’s men to deal with.

Baxter said: “If you know the opposition nine is a particular threat in the team, the focus isn’t necessarily on the nine it’s the things that allow him to be a threat.

“Dealing with Dupont will be very difficult if we don’t deal with the other platforms but that goes for any decent player.

“If we can challenge them in that way, that’s how you potentially limit his opportunities. You can create an environment which is harder for him to show it, that’s how we have to approach the game.”