'Lack of real decisiveness' led Exeter to defeat against La Rochelle - Rob Baxter

Rob Baxter was disappointed with Exeter's defeat to La Rochelle
Rob Baxter was disappointed with Exeter's defeat to La Rochelle

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter admitted that his side lacked decisiveness in their Heineken Champions Cup semi-final defeat against La Rochelle last weekend.

Raymond Rhule and Tawera Kerr-Barlow scored double for the French side while Ulupano Seuteni, Gregory Alldritt and Pierre Bourgarit all touched down apiece as La Rochelle completed a 47-28 win to make it to the final for the third time in a row.

Despite Sam Simmonds scoring the opening try of the game inside 10 minutes, Exeter were trailing 7-26 by the half-time and Baxter rued the missed opportunity to capitalise on the early momentum.

“The truth is, every defensive slip we made, it became a try,” he told Chiefs’ website.

“I thought the first five minutes, we contained them with great energy, got good field position, we were brave, and we got the try which, I felt, gave us some foundation into the game.

“Unfortunately – and this is where you have go give credit to the really good teams – if you then make a mistake, more often than not they’ll punish you and that’s exactly what happened.

“When we go through the game again, we will look at some of those thought-provoking mistakes, some decision-making mistakes and also, at times, a lack of real decisiveness.

“Had we gone flat-out, I think we would have been much better. Instead, we didn’t and we got stodgy, which in turn led to penalties and pressure.”

Baxter also paid an emotional tribute to the core group of Exeter players, who will be leaving the club at the end of the season.

“I am going to miss these guys because they are amazing players and I count some of them as life-long friends of mine and we have done some incredible things together,” he said.

“We have been on a journey together for 12, 13, 14 years with some of them but, at the same time, I am also looking forward to next year because I would like to start a journey with some of these other players.

“It will be amazing to watch guys like Will Becconsall, Tom Wyatt and Tom Cairns, guys who have just got into the team, and Christ Tshiunza, Daf Jenkins, it will be amazing to watch these guys lift a trophy one day, and that’s what we have got to focus on now.”