Preview: Exeter v Gloucester

Date published: March 28 2014

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter has made two changes to his starting line-up for Saturday's clash with Gloucester at Sandy Park.

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter has made two changes to his starting line-up for Saturday's clash with Gloucester at Sandy Park.

In the pack, Ben White misses out because of a bang taken in that game, so Tom Johnson comes into the back-row.

Meanwhile, Johnson's England team-mate, Jack Nowell, is also set to sit out the action due to a shoulder injury sustained when he tried to tackle Leicester's powerhouse prop Logovii Muilpola in last weekend's loss at Welford Road. His place on the wing is filled by the recalled Matt Jess.

On the bench, Johnson's elevation means there is a return to first team duty for the experienced James Scaysbrook, while Sam Hill is also back following a spell out with a hamstring injury to fill the void vacated by Jess.

With personnel in place and Baxter having gone through a detailed review of Exeter's video nasty from last time out, the Chiefs leader is hopeful that a packed Sandy Park crowd will bring the best out of his troops ahead of this latest battle.

“As a team we were a bit zombified last week,” he said.

“There were players with Exeter Chiefs names and numbers on, but there weren't too many Exeter Chiefs out there if you know what I mean.”

“We were OK in parts and there were bits of the game that went well for us, but going to Leicester you have to be right at the top end of our game and competitive and sadly we were neither.”

“I'm expecting a response from our guys this week and I'm expecting them to put in a big performance, just as they did against Gloucester earlier in the season.

A bit like we did last week, they'll look to reintegrate their England boys back into the fold, but we're at home; we're in front of our crowd; it's a sell-out and the atmosphere should be fantastic, so it's up to us to go out and put on a show.”

Meanwhile, Billy Twelvetrees returns to the Gloucester starting line up having missed out on the win over Newcastle last weekend in one of five changes to the starting line up.

Also returning to the starting XV are Twelvetrees' fellow England Six Nations representatives, Jonny May and Ben Morgan.

Other changes see Will James replacing James Hudson, who picked up a knock last weekend, while Jimmy Cowan comes in for Dan Robson, who tweaked a hamstring in the same game.

Of note amongst the replacements is the return of Tongan international second row Lua Lokotui, who has been sidelined with a pectoral injury since November.

The Chiefs currently sit just two points ahead of Gloucester in the Premiership ship table, and Director of Rugby Nigel Davies knows that will motivate both sides.

“Exeter have a great reputation, they play a good brand of rugby and they're well respected. But they're only two points ahead of us, that's all. And that represents a big opportunity for us at the weekend,” said Davies.

“They came to Kingsholm earlier in the season and put in a good performance to be fair to them. But Saturday is all about making sure that we get ourselves right.”

“They'll be looking for a big performance. They've played through the past few weeks whereas we were off. They possibly relaxed a bit after winning the LV= Cup, but Leicester's never an easy place to go to.”

Form: Exeter Chiefs have won just one of their last seven Aviva Premiership Rugby matches: 18-0 at home to London Irish in Round 16. The Chiefs are going for successive home wins in the same season at Sandy Park in the tournament for the first time since last May. Gloucester's last four matches have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst Gloucester have not been victorious on the road in the Premiership since they visited London Irish over Christmas. Exeter have won their last two fixtures against Gloucester including a 29-12 victory at Kingsholm in Round 5, and are going for a first ever season's double over their opponents.

The teams:

Exeter: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Phil Dollman, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Henry Slade, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 Tom Johnson, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (capt), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Don Armand, 20 James Scaysbrook, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Sam Hill.

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (c) 11 Jonny May, 10 Ryan Mills, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Will James, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Nick Wood
Replacements: 16 Koree Britton, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Lua Lokotui, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Henry Trinder.

Date: Saturday, March 29
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Venue: Sandy Park
Referee: Matthew Carly
Assistant referees: Ross Campbell, Paul Dix
Television match official: Geoff Warren