Preview: Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester

Date published: October 7 2016

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter has made three changes to his side to take on Gloucester this weekend.

Team news for the Chiefs see Luke Cowan-Dickie and Julian Salvi return up front in place of Jack Yeandle and Kai Horstmann, while behind Sam Hill comes back into the centre for Ollie Devoto.

Baxter acknowledges the threat posed by the visitors, as well as adding in the importance of points for both sides. He said: “The truth is with any Premiership game there are little battles you have to win – and the first one is who can bring the biggest physicality, the most intensity and who can force their game onto the opposition first.

“What we’ll see at the weekend are two sides who are going to go at it full tilt in a bid to gain some important league points. If you look at games between us over the years, they are always humdingers of matches, and I expect this weekend to be no different.”

Meanwhile, Charlie Sharples will make his 200th competitive appearance for Gloucester.

David Halaifonua will make his first start of the season on the opposite wing and Motu Matu'u is named in the matchday squad for the first time.

Sharples made his debut back in 2007/8 and his appearance at Sandy Park will make him the club's latest double centurion.

On the other wing, Halaifonua replaces the injured Henry Purdy and Matt Scott returns to partner Billy Twelvetrees in the Gloucester midfield.

In the pack, Paul Doran-Jones comes in for John Afoa who limped off against Bath last week and Gareth Evans starts in place of Ben Morgan who has been away training with England this week.

Meanwhile, amongst the replacements, hooker Motu Matu'u, a summer signing from the Hurricanes, is named in the matchday squad for the first time in place of Darren Dawidiuk.

Director of rugby David Humphreys told the media this week that the recent defeats have been tough, but that Gloucester will travel to Exeter in a positive frame of mind.

"It's been a difficult ten days for us all, losing two games at home. Nobody likes losing games, we particularly don't like losing games at Kingsholm. And both games we could have won.

"Certainly the feeling after Bath was that there were large elements of the performance that were much better than the week before. That's what we've built on getting ready for the challenge of Exeter."

Form: Exeter Chiefs' two victories in the Premiership this season have both been after scoring five tries, at home to Harlequins and at Bristol. The only visiting side to have won at Sandy Park since Gloucester did so in January 2015 has been Saracens, twice. Gloucester have won just one of their last six Premiership encounters – 26-13 at Sale in Round Three. Gloucester are unbeaten in their last three away games in the competition, their best form on the road since the start of season 2012/13. Each side won its respective home game when the clubs clashed last season whilst Gloucester’s record at Sandy Park in the tournament is an even won three, lost three. 

The teams:

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Ian Whitten, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Ollie Devoto, 23 Max Bodilly

Gloucester: 15 James Hook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 David Halaifonua, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Paul Doran-Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paddy McAllister
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Nicky Thomas, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Mark Atkinson, 23 Lewis Ludlow

Date: Saturday, October 8
Venue: Sandy Park
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Matthew O’Grady, Simon McConnell
TMO: Geoff Warren