Preview: Exeter v Leicester

Date published: September 27 2013

Exeter have made one change to their starting XV as Dave Ewers returns to their line-up at number eight for their clash with Leicester.

Exeter coach Rob Baxter has made one change to his starting XV as Dave Ewers returns to the side at number eight for their clash with Leicester.

Ewers' return, after missing last weekend's game with a slight tweak in his hamstring, sees Tom Johnson reverts back to the blindside position.

Try-scorer Ben White drops to the bench following the inclusion of Ewers and the experienced Kai Horstmann is the unlucky man to miss out.

The Tigers, like the Chiefs, have recorded two wins from three starts so far this term and will arrive in Devon looking to keep pace with unbeaten leaders Saracens at the summit.

Ready to meet that threat head will be the West Country outfit who, according to coach Baxter, have yet to hit top form in the Premiership.

“I am never critical of the players when we get out there and we go for it and play hard,” said Baxter.

“That said, we haven't really put periods of momentum play together for long spells to say we are really happy with things. In some ways that's a nice place to be as we feel there is more coming all the time and that it's still early in the season.

“Eight points from your first three games is a really good foundation to push on from and it's similar to how we have started seasons in the past, so I am comfortable with where we are. Now, though, we have to build on that foundation, collect some points – I don't mind how we get them – and just make sure we are comfortable with our level of performance.

“The truth is the best teams aren't at their best right now, this is the time when they bed in and get better, so that's what we have to do, which is bed in and get better.”

Meanwhile, vice-captains Louis Deacon and Anthony Allen return to the Leicester line-up.

Deacon, who made his 250th appearance for the club in the opening-day win over Worcester, sat out the fixtures against Bath and Newcastle but is fit to return to the pack.

Allen will make his 100th starting appearance for Tigers since joining the club in 2009.

Director of rugby Richard Cockerill also recalls Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Julian Salvi and Niall Morris to the starting line-up this week after rotation for the Falcons fixture.

Cockerill has confirmed that Manu Tuilagi suffered a chest muscle injury in the bonus-point win over Newcastle last week but will not require surgery. Vereniki Goneva moves to centre in his absence and Blaine Scully is on the wing as Morris returns at full-back.

Form: Exeter Chiefs' solo defeat in their last seven Aviva Premiership Rugby games was 11-38 away at Northampton in round 1. The Chiefs have won their last three matches at Sandy Park since Leicester beat them there, 12-9, on 23rd March. Leicester Tigers have lost just one of their last six games: 20-27 at Bath in round 2. The Tigers have now lost their last three away games in all competitions, to Toulon in the European Cup quarter-final and twice at Bath in the Premiership. Leicester achieved a Premiership double over Exeter last season reversing the Chiefs double triumph over the Tigers in 2011/12. Leicester's overall record at Sandy Park in all competitions is won two lost two, whilst their try scoring in those games has been 3, 2, 1 and zero, in that order.

The teams:

Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Ian Whitten, 13 Jason Shoemark, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Tom James, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Dave Ewers, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (capt), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Carl Rimmer, 19 Tom Hayes, 20 Ben White, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Matt Jess.

Leicester: 15 Niall Morris, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Vereniki Goneva, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Toby Flood (c), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Ed Slater, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Logovi'i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Dan Bowden.

Date: Sunday, September 29
Kick-off: 14:00 BST
Venue: Sandy Park
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Ashley Rowden, Roger Baileff
Television match official: Geoffrey Warren
Timekeeper: Eric Bullion
Assessor: Gary Welsh