Preview: Exeter v Leeds Carnegie

Date published: November 19 2010

Unlike many of the Premiership sides Exeter will face this year, Leeds Carnegie are familiar foes from their time in the Championship.

Unlike many of the Aviva Premiership sides Exeter Chiefs will face this year, Leeds Carnegie are familiar foes from their time in the Championship.

Rob Baxter has become well versed in facing Leeds, having tackled them nine times during his playing career and a further four as a head coach.

During that period there have been some ding-dong encounters between the sides, most notably the two most recent games during 2008/09 when Leeds claimed a league double over the Chiefs on their way to regaining Premiership status.

Fast forward to present day, however, and the Chiefs head into this latest match-up not only ahead of Neil Back's side in the current league standings, but also unbeaten in their past three league and cup fixtures.

“Our paths have crossed regularly over the years,” said Baxter.

“We know it's going to be a tough game on Saturday. We know Leeds are targeting this game almost as a must-win for them.

“For us it's about hitting the pitch in the right physical condition, but also getting the mentality of how we want to play right. We've got to go out there and play like it's a do or die, must win game for us. If we get that mentality right everything else will look after itself.”

Exeter's coach believes having the right mentality for this week and that of next week's visit of Sale Sharks is crucial to his side's overall seasonal aims – and believes the focus of his squad against Cardiff may have been slightly distracted such was the importance of these two upcoming games.

“With this being our first season in the Premiership I can understand if there was a little distraction at the back of the players' mind that 'next week we've got Leeds and that's a very important game for us',” he said.

“As long as that's our mentality and the reason for us being a little off last Friday was because this game was looming around the corner then that's not necessarily a negative for us.”

Having not risked a number of his walking wounded against the Blues a week ago, Baxter makes four changes to his starting XV with Bryan Rennie, Andrew Higgins, James Scaysbrook and Chris Budgen all returning.

On the bench Chad Slade is also back as he was not picked by Samoa for their international against England at Twickenham. He will be joined by Kiwi newcomer Jason Shoemark, who will make his Premiership debut should he be called upon at any stage.

Meanwhile, Leeds will be looking to earn their first win of the Aviva Premiership season when they travel to Sandy Park.

Leeds have played at the venue on two previous visits in the old National Division One and been victorious on both occasions. Four years ago a try from Rhys Oakley helped Leeds to a 35-21 victory whilst back in 2008, Leeds won by the narrowest margin in 14-13 victory.

Six of the players who were involved in that game will be in the side that travels to Exeter on Saturday. In the backs Scott Mathie and Scott Barrow, who scored a crucial try two years ago, return whilst Tom Denton and Rhys Oakley will be on familiar ground in the forwards. Danny Paul and Leigh Hinton on the bench.

Form: Leeds have won their last six matches against Exeter in National One since 2000/01. The Chiefs' last win over Leeds was 13-10 at the old County Ground in Premiership Two on 22 April 2000. Exeter Chiefs have won three of their first seven games in Aviva Premiership Rugby and are going for a second successive victory following their 23-9 win at Saracens in round seven. Leeds Carnegie have won only one game since April: 23-9 at Bucharest in the European Challenge Cup. The Yorkshiremen's most recent away win in the Premiership was 19-10 at Sale on 19 February.

The teams:

Exeter: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Andrew Higgins, 13 Phil Dollman, 12 Bryan Rennie, 11 Mark Foster, 10 Ryan Davis, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 James Hanks, 4 Tom Hayes (capt), 3 Chris Budgen, 2 Simon Alcott, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Hoani Tui, 19 Dave Gannon, 20 Chad Slade, 21 Garrick Cowley, 22 Ignacio Mieres, 23 Jason Shoemark.

Leeds Carnegie: 15 Michael Stephenson, 14 Lee Blackett, 13 Henry Fa'afili, 12 Scott Barrow, 11 Peter Wackett, 10 Ceiron Thomas, 9 Scott Mathie, 8 Daniel Brown, 7 Rhys Oakley, 6 Kearnan Myall, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 Tom Denton, 3 Juan Gomez, 2 Phil Nilsen. 1 Gareth Hardy.
Replacements: 16 James Parkes, 17 Miguel Alonso, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Danny Paul, 20 Alfie To'oala, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Lachlan MacKay, 23 Leigh Hinton.

Date: Saturday, November 20
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Venue: Sandy Park
Referee: Dave Pearson