Preview: Exeter Chiefs v Bath

Date published: February 27 2015

After back-to-back defeats to Saracens and Northampton, Bath are looking to stop the rot with a tricky game away to Exeter.

A win would keep their unbeaten record against the Chiefs in tact, the West Country side are the only team Exeter have not beaten since promotion to the top flight.

However the Chiefs are in reasonable form of their own, following up a big win over Newcastle with a comprehensive success away at the Stoop.

This will be another step up, but a victory would keep them very much in contention for a top four spot.

"Whenever you play a top-four side, you go through them and see they have a good set-piece, a good attack, a good defence – they have a lot of different threats and you have to be prepared to face a lot of pressure right across the board," said director of rugby Rob Baxter. 

"To be fair, every time we have played them they have played quite a lot of good-tempo phase rugby and they are prepared to counter-attack from quite deep."

Baxter has made four changes to the team that won at the Stoop, with Jack Nowell away on international duty, replaced by Ian Whitten, who moves across from the wing.

That means a start for Tom James, while up front Don Armand, Jack Yeandle and Carl Rimmer all start.

Bath have made five changes to their starting line-up for the trip to Sandy Park and while the backline remains unchanged, there are four personnel changes and one positional in the pack.

An all-new front-row of Nick Auterac, Ross Batty and Kane Palma-Newport – who recently made his 50th appearance for the club – starts, with Stuart Hooper and Dominic Day behind them. Francois Louw continues on the openside flank, as Carl Fearns shifts to the blindside and Leroy Houston returns at number eight.

Micky Young partners Ollie Devoto in the half-backs, and Kyle Eastmond and Sam Burgess link up once again in the midfield. Olly Woodburn and Semesa Rokoduguni are named out wide on the wings, with Tom Homer selected at full-back.

Form: Exeter Chiefs' only defeat in their last six matches in all tournaments was to Saracens at Allianz Park in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on 8 February. At Sandy Park the Chiefs have been defeated only once since September: 25-26 by Gloucester in Aviva Premiership Rugby on 3 January. Bath Rugby have lost their last three matches in all tournaments but have not lost four in a row since April 2012. Bath have lost their last two away games in Premiership Rugby, at Leicester and at Saracens. In Premiership Rugby the two sides have clashed on nine previous occasions with Exeter yet to record a victory, they did draw 12-all at Sandy Park in December 2012. The Chiefs have however beaten Bath twice in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in the calendar year of 2014.

The teams:

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Matt Jess, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Tom James, 10 Henry Slade, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (c), 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Carl Rimmer  
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Brett Sturgess, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Ben White, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Byron McGuigan

Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Sam Burgess, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Ollie Devoto, 9 Micky Young, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Carl Fearns, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Kane Palma-Newport, 3 Kane Palma-Newport, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Nick Auterac
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Alafoti Faosiliva, 20 Matt Garvey, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Rory Jennings, 23 Luke Arscott

Date: Saturday, February 28
Venue: Sandy Park
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Dean Richards
Assistant referees: Tom Foley, Paul Burton
TMO: Geoff Warren