Preview: Exeter v Bath

Date published: February 26 2016

Exeter welcome back powerful flanker Dave Ewers to their starting line-up for their Premiership meeting with Bath at Sandy Park on Sunday.

With the imposing Ewers returning to the fold, Don Armand moves to the openside flank with Julian Salvi nursing a knock from last weekend.

Up front hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie and prop Harry Williams are brought into the front-row, the latter for his first-ever Premiership start.

The only other change in personnel comes at scrum-half where Dave Lewis, who has scored tries at both Sale and Irish, is given the nod over Will Chudley.

Even with the change in personnel, assistant coach Ali Hepher says the Chiefs players can expected to be tested in every facet of the game by Sunday’s rivals.

“They’ll be disappointed with where they are, but if you look at their team and their players, they have the ability to win any game of rugby,” he warned.

“They still pose many threats, so we have to make sure we are right on top of our game to handle them.

“Things have moved on since the start of the season and both sides are a different proposition to what they were then. Their side will have a changed a bit because of injuries and international call-ups, but they’ve still lots of different options available to them. As always we’ll concentrate on ourselves as much as possible and then look for themes within their play.”

Meanwhile, Bath have made five changes to the starting line-up that will travel to Sandy Park.

Stuart Hooper returns to captain the side from the second-row, as Ross Batty, Henry Thomas, Adam Hastings and Kyle Eastmond also feature.

Batty and Thomas make up two-thirds of the front-row, joining Max Lahiff who retains the loosehead shirt. Hooper is partnered by Dominic Day in the engine room, whilst Leroy Houston, Francois Louw and Amanaki Mafi form a powerful back-row combination.

Hastings combines with scrum-half Chris Cook to control proceedings from the half-backs, and Eastmond slots in beside Matt Banahan in the midfield. The back three remains unchanged – Semesa Rokoduguni and Horacio Agulla providing the threat out wide, and Tom Homer from full-back.

Form: Exeter Chiefs ended a two game losing run with their 22-15 victory at London Irish on Sunday. The Chiefs have picked up at least one league point from every Aviva Premiership Rugby game they have played since their trip to Bath on 27 December 2014. Bath have won just one of their last eight encounters in all competitions – 16-14 at Worcester in Round 12 of the Premiership. Bath have actually tallied more league points away from home than they have at home this season. Exeter’s only victory in their eleven Premiership encounters with Bath was 16-6 at Sandy Park in this equivalent fixture in Round 16 last season.

The teams:

Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Sam Hill, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Jonny Hill, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Will Hooley, 23 Max Bodilly

Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Leroy Houston, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Max Lahiff
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 David Wilson, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Matt Garvey, 21 Guy Mercer, 22 Jonathan Evans, 23 Max Clark

Date: Sunday, 28 February
Venue: Sandy Park
Kick-off: 13:00 GMT
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell, Paul Dix
TMO: Geoff Warren