Exeter face Gloucester at Sandy Park on Saturday: 15:00 kick-off
The Chiefs hand a first Premiership start to second row Ollie Atkins
England’s Ben Morgan returns to the Gloucester number eight spot
Exeter are looking to preserve their yearlong unbeaten home record when they face Gloucester, despite losing two of their last three games in all competitions.
The last time the home side suffered defeat at Sandy Park though was to Gloucester on the 3rd of January 2015, with the Cherry and Whites winning 26-25.
Despite not being an Exeter Chief during the defeat to Gloucester, flanker Julian Salvi is looking for revenge.
He told Premiership Rugby, “It is a big match and one we are definitely looking forward to. They are the last team to win here, so that makes it a big game in that sense and we also want to right the wrongs of last week.
“We will need a good performance, which we always demand when we play at Sandy Park. When you have suffered a loss, it is about making sure you get back to winning ways in the next match.
“If you can keep ticking along and getting the four or five pointers then it goes a massive way towards having a good season.”
If Exe are to gain revenge for last year’s defeat, they will have to perform better than they did in their dire New Year’s Day clash with Northampton Saints.
Saints prevailed 8-3 as the Chiefs struggled to find any kind of form. To leave with a bonus point was seen as a considerable success considering they never seriously threatened the hosts’ try-line.
Exeter Head Coach Rob Baxter will have to make do without the services of Mitch Lees – who is still awaiting news on the severity of his bicep injury – and Damian Welch. Sam Hill also looks unlikely to feature as he recovers from a rolled ankle.
The Cherry and Whites will need to put their poor away form behind them, as they have only managed one victory in their last nine away games.
Despite their poor away form in the league, Gloucester are unbeaten in five games in all competitions.
Only the teams occupying the semi-final positions have lost fewer games, while only the top three have scored more points.
Gloucester make just two changes for Saturday’s Aviva Premiership clash at Exeter Chiefs, Greig Laidlaw and Ben Morgan returning to the starting line-up.
Those two changes apart, it’s the same starting line-up that began the game against London Irish last weekend. Laidlaw will resume the captaincy, and Morgan will wear his usual number eight shirt.
The Cherry and Whites’ 26-25 win on January 3, 2015, was the last time an opposing team have won at Sandy Park. Exeter Chiefs have lost two of their last three matches in all competitions
Exeter’s 8-3 loss at Northampton in Premiership Rugby on New Year’s Day was the first time they had failed to score a try in a match since Saracens visited Sandy Park in November 2014.
The Chiefs do remain the top try scorers in the league this season.
As for Gloucester, they are unbeaten in their last five fixtures in all tournaments since losing 15-3 at Northampton on November 27.
However, the Cherry and Whites have won just one away game in their last nine trips in Premiership Rugby: the 39-27 win at Newcastle Falcons on the opening week of the season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Exeter Chiefs: Jack Nowell
Gloucester: Greig Laidlaw
Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Jack Nowell, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Don Armand, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Ollie Atkins, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle (c), 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Moray Low, 19 Jonny Hill, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Will Hooley, 23 Michele Campagnaro
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Bill Meakes, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 James Hook, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Nicky Thomas, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Nick Wood
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Paddy McAllister, 19 Mariano Galarza, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Mark Atkinson
Date: Saturday, January 9
Venue: Sandy Park
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Peter Huckle, Ross Campbell
TMO: Stuart Terheege