EXETER Chiefs boss Rob Baxter insisted Worcester Warriors deserved to consign his side to a “rare” 6-5 defeat in a closely-fought Aviva Premiership battle at Sandy Park.

A Mitch Lees try in the second half was all the reigning champions and current league leaders could muster against a resolute Warriors side.

Gareth Steenson’s missed conversion ultimately cost Chiefs victory as a pair of Chris Pennell penalties in the first half proved to be enough for Worcester who clinched a memorable win.

But Baxter admitted he was surprised his team came so close to winning as he was keen to praise Alan Solomons’ men.

“The result was deserved and I am pretty comfortable talking about that,” Baxter said.

“We don’t win games of rugby without deserving it, we didn’t win the Premiership without deserving it and we didn’t lose against Worcester without deserving it.

“It is rare for us to only score five points and it is rare for us to lose a game where we only concede six points.

“You have got to give Worcester great credit.

“For us to only score five points in the Premiership takes a bit of doing in the Premiership and Worcester have done that.

“I thought they were more physical than us and won a lot of the breakdown areas which kicked a lot of our momentum and created some problems for us around the ruck.”

Exeter were without the likes of Jack Nowell, Sam Simmonds, Alec Hepburn and Harry Williams who were all on England duty.

“I don’t want to make any excuses,” Baxter added.

“I have said to the lads ‘If you want to walk around as the champions of England then you have got to fight for that’. You have got to fight like a contender to stay there.

“Were there periods of control exerted by us in the game? You have got to say ‘No’.

“For us to be within striking distance by hitting the post with a kick (from Steenson) which could have won us the game feels like I don’t know how we got that close as it never really felt like we had control of the game.

“Worcester looked like they had a fair bit more composure and understanding of what they wanted to get out of the game.”