Preview: Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins

Date published: November 27 2015

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter has recalled Mitch Lees, Dave Ewers, Don Armand and Thomas Waldrom to his forward pack to take on Harlequins.

In the backline Gareth Steenson returns at fly-half, James Short is given the nod on the left wing and Ian Whitten's inclusion from the outset means a new midfield partnership alongside Henry Slade.

Baxter has spent this week reminding his players to make home advantage tell in their quest for honours this season. With just two home defeats in 14 months, the term 'fortress' has been touted loud and proud by many observers, including those within the Sandy Park corridors.

"We're excited about playing Harlequins," said Baxter.

"They are one of the most established and well known teams in the Premiership and the fact it's second versus third is fantastic and makes it exciting and more important than normal. 

"For us, though, the most important thing is it's a home game at Sandy Park and if we want to have a successful season, we have to perform well at home and we have to build a backbone and foundation of our season on the results we get here I think that is something we will talk about in the build-up to the game, is making sure we know how important this fixture is not just because it's Harlequins, but also because it's at home and we have a great record here and we want to make sure it continues."

Meanwhile, Harlequins have made eight changes to the starting side that beat Cardiff Blues last week, with Mike Brown set to make his 250th professional appearance for the club, becoming just the second player in their history to do so.

Among the forwards, James Horwill returns and is named in the second-row with Dave Ward starting in the back-row.

Captain Danny Care partners Nick Evans in the half-backs as George Lowe is named at outside centre.

Harlequins Academy member Kieran Treadwell will look to make his Aviva Premiership debut from the replacements.

Form: Exeter Chiefs’ only loss in their last five matches in all tournaments was 13-25 to Ospreys in Swansea in the first round of the European Champions Cup. Exeter have not lost at Sandy Park since Gloucester were the visitors in Aviva Premriship Rugby on 3rd January. Harlequins only defeat this season in any tournament was 19-22 at Leicester in Premiership Rugby on 25th October. Exeter claimed a Premiership Rugby double over Harlequins last season, something they had also achieved in season 2012/13; with Quins achieving a similar double in both 2011/12 and 2013/14.  

The teams:

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Moray Low, 2 Jack Yeandle (c), 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Sam Hill, 23 Olly Woodburn.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Charlie Walker, 13 George Lowe, 12 Harry Sloan, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care (c), 8 Nick Easter, 7 Dave Ward, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Sam Twomey, 4 James Horwill, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Kieran Treadwell, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Matt Hopper.

Date: Saturday 28 November
Venue: Sandy Park
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee:  Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Ros Campbell & Roger Baileff
TMO:  Keith Lewis