Preview: Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester

Date published: January 8 2016

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Exeter lock Ollie Atkins comes in for his first Premiership start at the expense of the injured Mitch Lees.

Julian Salvi is back at openside in place of Tom Johnson. Behind, James Short is promoted from the bench to go on the wing, so England star Jack Nowell reverts to the centre with Italian Michele Campagnaro dropping down to the replacements.

On the bench, former Gloucester Academy youngster Jonny Hill is included in a first-team squad for the first time, prop Alec Hepburn returns after injury and the experienced Kai Horstmann offers back row cover after some notable displays as skipper of the Braves 'A' side.

Meanwhile, Gloucester make just two changes for Saturday's Premiership clash, as Greig Laidlaw and Ben Morgan return 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.

"Both teams have an ambition to play, they've started the season well and play a great brand of rugby. They've been building for a number of years and Rob (Baxter) has got them very well organised, they all know their roles," said Gloucester boss David Humphreys.

"It's going to be a big test but, coming on the back of a good run for us, it's one that we're very much looking forward to.”

Form: 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, whilst their 8-3 reversal 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. But 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, they 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.

The teams:

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

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