Preview: Exeter Chiefs v Ulster

Date published: January 13 2017

Exeter Chiefs boss Rob Baxter will parade a powerful line-up for the Champions Cup clash with Ulster at Sandy Park this weekend.

In the pack, Ben Moon, Mitch Lees and Jonny Hill all return to the fray, while behind Dave Lewis comes in at scrum-half for Will Chudley, who is nursing a knock.

Former Ulsterman Ian Whitten forms a new midfield partnership alongside Italian international Michele Campagnaro. The only other change sees Olly Woodburn given the nod on the wing ahead of James Short.

“It’s going to be a high intensity game this weekend because it’s two very good sides who are going well,” Baxter said.

“Ulster have probably got a bit more to play for than we have, but we’re used to facing that in the Champions Cup and we’ve got to make sure that’s something that brings the best out of us.

“What I’d be really disappointed about is if any players relax or the team relax because we’ve got ourselves to a level of intensity and level of quality of play now in the Premiership that’s held us in good stead; you don’t want to slip off those standards.

“I don’t want to be saying to the team in two weeks’ time that we’ve got to kick-start ourselves again.”

Meanwhile, Les Kiss has made three personnel changes for the Champions Cup trip to play the Chiefs.

Dave Shanahan will make his first senior start after being named at scrum-half, while Charles Piutau and Pete Browne are also brought into the starting XV.

Shanahan has made 10 previous appearances for the Province, all of which have come from the replacements bench. He will be partnered at half-back by Paddy Jackson, who kicked a match-winning drop goal when the two sides met at Kingspan Stadium in Round 2 in October. Luke Marshall and Stuart McCloskey will continue their midfield combination outside the Ireland fly-half.

Piutau, ranked second in the competition for metres made in attack, is selected on the right wing, with captain Andrew Trimble moving to the opposite flank. Louis Ludik, who was impressive in last week's game at Parc y Scarlets, is retained at full-back.

Ross Kane will make his first European start after being selected in an unchanged front row that also includes Ireland skipper Rory Best and Callum Black.

Browne's inclusion in the second row alongside Kieran Treadwell means that Iain Henderson will shift to the back row and will wear the number six jersey. Chris Henry and Sean Reidy are the other loose forwards named by Kiss.

Clive Ross, Paul Marshall and Jacob Stockdale make way for the new faces in the starting side, but the trio are included among the replacements. John Andrew, Andy Warwick, Jonny Simpson, Franco van der Merwe and Brett Herron also remain in the matchday squad.

Form: The home side will want to use this game to try and gain some momentum going forward. Their last game was against Bordeaux were they won 20-12 against their French opponents. Before that though they suffered two defeats in a row with losses to Bordeaux 13-7 and Ulster 19-18. Ulster's most recent game was against Clermont where they lost 38-19, but before that the Northern Irish side had consecituve wins against Clermont 39-32 and against the Chiefs 19-18.

The teams:

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Don Armand, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Moray Low, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Dave Dennis, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Stuart Townsend, 22 Joe Simmonds, 23 Ollie Devoto

Ulster: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Charles Piutau, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Andrew Trimble (c), 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Dave Shanahan, 8 Sean Reidy, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Pete Browne, 4 Kieran Treadwell, 3 Ross Kane, 2 Rory Best, 1 Callum Black
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Jonny Simpson, 19 Franco van der Merwe, 20 Clive Ross, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Brett Herron, 23 Jacob Stockdale

Date: Sunday, January 15
Venue: Sandy Park
Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant Referees: Pierre Brousset (France), Stéphane Boyer (France)
TMO: Arnaud Blondel (France)