Preview: Exeter v Northampton

Date published: March 15 2014

Exeter have rewarded Fetu'u Vainikolo for his impact off the bench last week with a start in Sunday's LV= Cup final against Northampton.

Exeter Chiefs have rewarded Fetu'u Vainikolo for his impact off the bench last week with a start in their LV= Cup Final against Northampton Saints.

The finisher comes in for Tom James on the right wing, with Matt Jess making the switch to the opposite touchline while Jason Shoemark is 12.

Shoemark replaces Ian Whitten in the line-up in an otherwise unchanged backline to the one that edged Bath 22-19 at the Recreation Ground.

And now Exeter head coach Rob Baxter has challenged his players to go out and create yet more headlines in the history of the club.

“We're very excited and looking forward to the game because this is what we need to be doing,” he said, speaking ahead of the home final.

“I just said to the guys today, we don't need to beat Northampton four times or whatever to win the trophy, it's about the 80 minutes this weekend, that's what cup finals are all about.

“What we have to do is walk out onto our own pitch and put in an 80-minute performance. We were pretty good last time against the Saints here, but now we have to be a bit better. Let's go out and play in a way that we are happy with and gives us the chance to force a win. That is what you have to do in a final – you have to go out and win it.”

Meanwhile, Northampton have rung the changes for Sunday's finale at Sandy Park.

Over 40 players have seen action in the Saints' LV= Cup campaign so far this season, and defence coach Alan Dickens admitted during the week that selection had been difficult.

In the backs James Wilson and Jamie Elliott come in at centre and wing respectively after missing the semi-final win over Saracens, with Stephen Myler swapping with Will Hooley.

Up front there are returns to the starting line-up for props Alex Waller and Salesi Ma'afu, second-row forward Samu Manoa and back-rowers Calum Clark and GJ Van Velze.

Ethan Waller, Tom Mercey, James Craig and Ben Nutley all begin the game as replacements, along with Ross McMillan, Alex Day and Fa'atoina Autagavaia.

The teams:

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 13 Phil Dollman, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Henry Slade, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 Ben White, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (capt), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Chris Whitehead, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Romana Graham, 20 Don Armand, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Sireli Naqelevuki.

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 James Wilson, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Phil Dowson (capt) 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 James Craig 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Alex Day 22 Will Hooley, 23 Fa'atoina Autagavaia.

Date: Sunday, March 16
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Venue: Sandy Park
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant referees: Peter Huckle, Paul Dix
Television match official: Geoff Warren
Timekeeper: Matthew Peters
Assessor: Chris White