Preview: Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks

Date published: December 24 2015

Saturday’s game will see Exeter fly-half Gareth Steenson run out for his 100th Premiership appearance for the club. 

Exeter are also boosted by the return of Ben Moon and Mitch Lees to the pack, while behind Will Chudley and Sam Hill are also back having missed out last time out.

One disappointment, however, is the loss of Damian Welch to an injured pectoral muscle.

“We were a little bit frustrated with aspects of last week [against Clermont], even though it’s a very difficult place to go and play,” admitted director of rugby Rob Baxter.

“We certainly did some things well over there, but I think what is nice is that the guys have actually trained this week in an angry and frustrated manner, rather than feeling sorry for themselves."

Meanwhile, Sale boss Steve Diamond has named his side, as captain Dan Braid returns along with Sam Tuitupou, Josh Beaumont, Danny Cipriani and TJ Ioane.

Form: Exeter have undeniably been one of the sides to beat in the league this season, and the second-placed outfit have lost just once in all competitions at Sandy Park since September 2014. Each side won its respective home game when the two clubs met in Aviva Premiership Rugby last season, but Sale's only previous win at Sandy Park came in April 2014 when they won 55-12 – the Chiefs' biggest reversal at the venue.

The teams:

Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Sam Hill, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Don Armand, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle (c), 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Moray Low, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Will Hooley, 23 Michele Campagnaro

Sale: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Tom Arscott, 13 Sam James, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Will Addison, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Josh Beaumont, 7 TJ Ioane, 6 Dan Braid (c), 5 Bryn Evans, 4 Jonathan Mills, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Cameron Neild, 17 Eifion Lewis-Roberts, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Andrei Ostrikov, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Chris Cusiter, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Mark Jennings

Date: Saturday, December 26
Venue: Sandy Park
Kick-off: 15:00
Referee: Dean Richards
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce, Andrew Pearce
TMO: Geoffrey Warren