Rob Baxter salutes the impact of Alex Cuthbert in crucial win

Rob Baxter says Alex Cuthbert has a big role to play in Exeter Chiefs’ attempt to defend their Premiership title after the former Wales and British and Irish Lions star made a sparkling try scoring return.

Cuthbert scored a world class try in the 51st minute at Kingston Park to help Exeter Chiefs beat Newcastle Falcons 15-9 to move back to second in the Gallagher Premiership table, behind Bristol Bears, after eight rounnds.

Cuthbert, who made his return from a calf injury which has seen him sidelined since October, backed himself on the outside and sped beyond Joel Hodgson down a narrow channel and then powered through the attempted tackle of Cooper Vuna to touch down.

You could feel all the anguish of his injury hell released in the celebratory screen.

Chiefs director of rugby Baxter, hailed the impact of the returning 48-cap international.

He said: “That little bit of quality can pay dividends.

“I am really pleased for Alex because he has had a pretty nightmarish period with injuries and it has been one injury to another.

“He has got back on the field and played very well for us today.

“He has got himself to where he needs to be, he is one of our best rehabbers, which allows him to come back in the condition to perform like he has today and he has played a huge part in securing the win here.

“It is an important period and to be able to have some rotation in that backline is a plus, he is going to help us with that and add a bit of quality over these next six or seven weeks when there are going to be a lot of tough games and he is going to play a big part in those.”

Sam Simmonds opened the scoring for Chiefs on Sunday in the bitter cold in Newcastle.

The number eight burst off the back of a 5m scrum and powered through the tackle of George Wacokecoke to score and remind England head coach Eddie Jones of his explosive ball carrying abilities.

Joe Simmonds finished with five points from the boot from a conversion and penalty while Newcastle’s Hodgson landed a trio of penalty kicks to finish with nine points.

Reflecting on another gritty performance from his side, Baxter said: “I am happy with workmanlike, there is nothing wrong with workmanlike. Being workmanlike gets you to where you want to be in the end and I think that is where we are at the moment.

“Everything we do isn’t quality, a lot of balls went to the floor today, just simple catch and passes, and that is frustrating the players.

“I kind of feel their pain but we are fighting and sometimes that just gives you a foundation to work from. For now if we are building foundations for later in the season I am happy with that.”

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Baxter certainly had no issues with his players’ efforts as the scrum performed much better than last weekend against Worcester Warriors.

Baxted said: “I am not looking at a group of players who are not turning up.

“They have gone out there and played with great endeavour, physicality and emotion and battled their way through a tough win.

“Newcastle are no easy side, they have shown that this season and they will turn over a lot of teams here but these last two weeks we have earned a really valuable eight points which will come to be crucial at the end of the season.”

Chiefs host London Irish next weekend.

Devon Live