Preview: Leicester v Exeter

Date published: September 28 2012

New signing Dan Bowden will make his Leicester debut in the Tigers' home game against Exeter at Welford Road on Saturday.

New signing Dan Bowden will make his Leicester debut in the Tigers' home game against Exeter Chiefs.

Former London Irish centre Bowden is named in the Tigers line-up for this Round Five fixture and will run out at Welford Road for the first time.

Front-rowers George Chuter and Logovi'i Mulipola come into the Tigers forward pack and there is a return for Thomas Waldrom at number eight with Jordan Crane moving across the back-row to 6.

Ed Slater is included in the squad for the first time this season after recovering from a knee injury.

“We've all been very honest about the performance against Harlequins last week and the only way we know to correct that is to work hard in training and to front-up again on Saturday,” said Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill.

“Exeter had an excellent win last week and they are a team to be respected. They're tough opponents and they've added to their game again this season.

“We've played some decent rugby in the season so far and we've been resilient in defence but we need to be more accurate and composed on the ball.”

Anthony Allen and Steve Mafi took knocks in the game against Harlequins last week, while Tigers are also without injured club captain Geordan Murphy, Miles Benjamin, Tom Croft, Louis Deacon, Rob Hawkins, Manu Tuilagi, Micky Young and Ben Youngs.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs will travel to the East Midlands having been forced to make one change to their winning line-up.

Back-row James Phillips injured his knee in the Saracens encounter and is set for a prolonged spell on the sidelines, but Exeter have a more than able replacement in the shape of England international Tom Johnson, who himself was forced to sit out last week's action.

The only other change in personnel comes in the back division where Kiwi centre Jason Shoemark returns to the fold at the expense of Phil Dollman.

Shoemark's inclusion in the midfield alongside Sireli Naqelevuki means summer signing Ian Whitten is switched to the right wing. Dollman, meanwhile, starts on the bench in place of Mark Foster.

So with a familiar feel to the Exeter line-up, coaches Rob Baxter and Ali Hepher are hoping their troops will perform in the heat of battle.

“Last week was good, but equally we've kept level headed about it all. Like always we didn't get carried away when we lost at London Welsh – and equally we haven't got carried away having beaten Saracens,” said Hepher.

“We're well aware going to Leicester is always a tough ask. Yes, we may have won there last season, but at the same time you have to remember they were numbers down on that day because of the World Cup.

“It will be a different story this weekend, we know that, but equally we're in good form ourselves and we've played some good rugby apart from one game.

“As always we will look to play our game and challenge Leicester in different ways.”

Form: Leicester Tigers have not scored a try for 166 minutes – their longest barren spell in the Premiership since November 2010. The Tigers' 9-22 home defeat to Harlequins on Saturday was only the sixth time in Premiership history that Leicester have come away from a game at Welford Road with no league points. Exeter Chiefs' last five games have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst the Chiefs have lost their last three away games. The Devonians achieved the Aviva Premiership Rugby double over the Tigers last season and are attempting to join a select band of clubs who have managed back to back Premiership wins at Welford Road after Northampton, Harlequins, Saracens and Wasps.

The teams:
Leicester: 15 Scott Hamilton, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Dan Bowden, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Jordan Crane (c), 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Graham Kitchener, 3 Dan Cole, 2 George Chuter, 1 Logovi'i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Brett Deacon, 21 Patrick Phibbs, 22 George Ford, 23 Adam Thompstone.

Exeter: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Ian Whitten, 13 Sireli Naqelevuki, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 James Hanks, 4 Tom Hayes (c), 3 Carl Rimmer, 2 Chris Whitehead, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Simon Alcott, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Chris Budgen, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Ben White, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Phil Dollman.

Date: Saturday, September 29
Kick-off: 14:15 BST
Venue: Welford Road
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Andrew Watson, Paul Burton
Television match official: Graham Hughes