Rob Baxter left satisfied by determined effort
Exeter Chiefs' debut Heineken Cup season ended in defeat against Leinster, but head coach Rob Baxter was satisfied with his side's performance on Saturday.
The Chiefs took two wins from their six Pool Five games, but came close to making it three before falling to a 29-20 defeat to the defending European champions at Sandy Park.
The Devon side led Leinster 17-12 at half-time following a penalty try and a touch down from hooker Neil Clark.
Baxter said he was delighted with his team's performance, particularly after last weekend's 46-3 loss to Clermont Auvergne.
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"I think we played with a good intensity and that had been our aim all week," he said.
"We were aware that we didn't match Clermont's intensity and that was a big focus for what we wanted to do this week.
"We did that well, but you have to keep it going and get a lot of little bits right.
"An odd bit of scrum pressure and the odd defensive lapse and suddenly you are under your posts and another try has gone in.
"You don't always feel like you have done too much wrong and that is what the Heineken Cup has taught us.
"We were beaten by Clermont in a game where we controlled possession and territory for large periods, and then conceded a try.
"That happened to us a little bit against Leinster, but we managed to ride those moments a bit more and showed more threat with the ball ourselves."
The Chiefs' tactics were influenced by Leinster's need to earn a bonus-point victory at Sandy Park, if the Irish side were to stand a chance of progression.
The penalty try came when the Irish side illegally stopped a 15-man maul heading for the try line after the Chiefs had opted to kick a penalty into the corner. Baxter said: "When you come down to this part of the world, 15-man mauls are something you see quite often, aren't they?
"The reality is, we wanted a couple of things up our sleeves that we thought might put Leinster under a little bit of pressure.
"If we just kicked the first penalty of the game between the posts, and they have to score four tries, you are just taking the pressure off them.
"But if you stick the ball in the corner, you keep the ball and come up with a try, that is quite frustrating for a team that is trying to score tries.
"We went in with a good game-plan, based around pressure and trying to keep elements of possession and territory that would mean Leinster would struggle to get their four tries.
"It was nice that they were under pressure to win the game and we were one score away from making things very difficult for them at the end. We helped create a very good game of competitive rugby."
Baxter hopes the Chiefs' experiences in the Heineken Cup will make them a better side in the Aviva Premiership. He said: "We have approached every game in the Heineken Cup as a massive experience for us. As a club, the only way you move forward is to go for things flat out.
"To not use the Heineken Cup as an experience, not putting the best side out we can and playing as hard as we can, would be foolish because we're still a relatively young Premiership side and this has been a fantastic opportunity for us to get better."