"Leicester Are A Proud Club" - Exeter Chiefs DoR Rob Baxter Ready for Tigers Redemption - Ruck

“Leicester Are A Proud Club” – Exeter Chiefs DoR Rob Baxter Ready for Tigers Redemption

By Louis Chapman-Coombe

Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter knows his side need to be at their best to beat Leicester Tigers this weekend. The Tigers are winless since March, and are out of play-off contention, however they will be keen to end their season on a high with a win against Exeter at Welford Road.

Speaking to the media ahead of the game, Baxter said: “Leicester are a proud club. They’re going to want to put a performance like we did in their last home game. We’re very aware that we’ve got to turn up and perform very, very well this weekend.”

Rob Baxter, Director of Rugby of Exeter Chiefs looks dejected after losing during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bristol Bears and Exeter Chiefs at Ashton Gate on 20 May. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

He added: “I’m expecting them to be very, very competitive. Away wins are something to be cherished and they have been all season in the Premiership. Nobody’s given up home fixtures easily at any stage this season, so you’ve got to expect that.”

“I’m expecting it to be a big game for them, and a big and a proud performance. We’re going to have to go there and play well.”

Welford Road has been a tricky place for Exeter to venture to in recent seasons. The Chiefs haven’t won at Welford Road on their previous three visits, including last year’s 62-19 thrashing.

Try celebrations for Ollie Hassell-Collins of Leicester Tigers during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Leicester Tigers and Bristol Bears at Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium, Leicester on 27 April 2024. Photo: James Whitehead/PPAUK

Commenting on the Welford Road factor, Baxter said: “It’s a great rugby stadium, there’s always a great atmosphere there, they obviously have big crowds. It’s a slightly smaller pitch, I think it’s one of the smallest pitches in the Premiership, which creates a little bit of a challenge if you play in a certain way.”

Exeter also venture to the East Midlands with their own top four aspirations alive. Last weekend’s 58-26 win over Harlequins kept them firmly in the hunt for the top four, however they will need results elsewhere to go their way and get a win of their own to clinch a play-off spot.

“Conceding the late try against Quins in some ways simplified things even more,” explained Baxter. “We’ve now only got one opportunity now, and that’s to get a five-point win at Leicester. That’s the only thing that gives us any opportunity. We still want to wait on other results but that’s the only thing that really gives us a genuine opportunity.”

He added: “That probably clarifies things. It means we’ve got to play in a well-structured way. We’ve got to not panic if things aren’t going the way we want to go early on. We showed a few of those qualities against Harlequins. We didn’t get ahead until the second half. There’s lots of lessons we should have and hopefully have learned last week, but it’s going to be a different environment up at Leicester. We’ve just got to show the best of ourselves.”

He also explained his side will be enjoying the occasion: “We’re going to have a good time, we’re having a good training week, we’re going to turn up at Leicester. For me, I’m also going to be sitting there and I’m going to be trying to enjoy it, which will be tough, but I’m going to look at it with great interest this weekend because the lads have worked really hard to get there.”

A bonus-point win, plus results going their way elsewhere, will ensure Exeter will make the play-offs for the first time since 2021.