Preview: Exeter v Newcastle

Date published: February 13 2015

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Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has named an experienced side for Saturday's clash with Newcastle Falcons at Sandy Park.

With Jack Nowell released from England's training camp earlier this week, Baxter has a wealth of riches to pick from ahead of kick-off.

Nowell starts in the number 13 jersey and not surprisingly, the majority of Baxter's frontline stars all return having sat out the past fortnight, whilst scrum-half Will Chudley also starts against his former club.

After a month of action which has seen the Devon club advance to the knock-out stages of both the European Challenge and LV= Cups, it's back to the bread and butter of the top flight for the Chiefs.

Baxter has watched on with quiet satisfaction at the way his team has rediscovered their winning formula – particularly after they lost four successive Premiership games either side of Christmas – and he is hopeful they can continue their renaissance against the visiting Northerners.

"We've got a group of players that are looking forward to getting back to Premiership action, particularly at home,” said Baxter.

"I'm not going to say I am expecting anything, simply because that has been our issue a lot this season.

"Sometimes we have expected things to happen or we've expected performances, but what I am asking for this week is that we show a quality of performance and what we do on the pitch means that the result is in our hands and doesn't come down to one or two slight things that will happen in games – because that is what has hurt us in our last few Premiership games.”

Meanwhile, Newcastle have made two changes to the starting line-up that defeated London Irish in the LV= Cup a week ago.

In a side boasting a wealth of experience, including a total of 287 international caps across the 23-man squad, the only changes come in the front row with props Eric Fry and Scott Wilson making way for Rob Vickers and Juan Pablo Orlandi, who makes his first start in a Falcons shirt.
 
Looking to record a first ever win against Exeter at Sandy Park, director of rugby Dean Richards has handed the responsibility to tried and tested combinations that continue to show signs of development.
 
In an unchanged back division Simon Hammersley starts at fullback, while Samoan duo Sinoti Sinoti and Alesana Tuilagi take the wing berths.
 
In the centres Adam Powell and Juan Pablo Socino line up alongside each other for the 10th time this season while Mike Blair and Tom Catterick are the starting scrum and fly half.
 
Up front, and in between the new props, Scott Lawson starts at hooker as Calum Green and Scott MacLeod start in the second row.
 
The starting 15 is completed by Mark Wilson on the blindside flank, captain Will Welch on the openside and Ally Hogg at number eight.
 
On the bench, front row options are provided by Rob Hawkins, Alex Rogers and Scott Wilson, while Dom Barrow and Richard Mayhew provide cover for the second and back rows.
 
Back replacements are provided by Ruki Tipuna, Gonzalo Tiesi, who is in line for a first appearance since retiring injured from the fray against Sale Sharks in November and Alex Tait, who will make his 150th appearance for the club, should he take to the field on Saturday.

Form: Exeter Chiefs have slipped to four straight defeats in Aviva Premiership Rugby but have gained losing bonus points in three of those encounters. The Chiefs’ only defeat at Sandy Park in their last ten fixtures in all tournaments was inflicted by Gloucester 26-25 in Aviva Premiership rugby on 3 January. Newcastle Falcons have won four of their last five matches in all competitions, the defeat being at home to the Dragons in the European Challenge Cup on 17 January. Newcastle’s two most recent matches in the Aviva Premiership have resulted in a loss and a win, but gaining a try bonus on each occasion – the Falcons have not recorded three successive try bonus points in the competition since the last three games of Rob Andrew’s long spell as head coach in May 2006. Newcastle won 29-24 at Kingston Park in Round Five to record their first ever Premiership victory over the Chiefs. The Falcons have visited Exeter on four previous occasions in competitive rugby and lost them all.

The teams:

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Ian Whitten, 13 Jack Nowell, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Henry Slade, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Ben White, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (capt), 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Byron McGuigan.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Sinoti Sinoti, 13 Adam Powell, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Tom Catterick, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Scott MacLeod, 4 Calum Green, 3 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Mark Irving, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Dom Barrow, 20 Richard Mayhew, 21 Ruki Tipuna, 22 Gonzalo Tiesi, 23 Alex Tait.

Date: Saturday, February 14
Venue: Sandy Park
Kick-off: 16:30 GMT
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Gareth Copsey, Jonathan Healy
TMO: Keith Lewis

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