Preview: Leicester v Exeter

Date published: March 4 2016

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Leicester Tigers have recalled Logovi'i Mulipola, Vereniki Goneva and Peter Betham to the starting line-up for Sunday's home game against Exeter Chiefs in Round 15 of the Premiership.

Mulipola comes into the front row alongside Marcos Ayerza and Harry Thacker in an otherwise unchanged forward pack from the win over London Irish last weekend.

Betham joins Manu Tuilagi at centre, while Goneva returns on the wing.

Fly-half Owen Williams is included among the replacements in his first appearance in a matchday squad since suffering a fractured jaw in the home win over Northampton Saints in early January.

Meanwhile, Exeter will be hoping fly-half Gareth Steenson continues his form, as he did much of the damage for the Chiefs against Bath, landing 16 points on the day to take him through 1000 Premiership points for the club.

Ian Whitten and Kai Horstmann added a try apiece to complete Exeter’s tenth league win of the season. 

All three will again figure in an Exeter squad which shows a number of changes in personnel to that which ran out in the all-Westcountry affair.

International props Moray Low and Tomas Francis both return to the fray in an all-changed front-row that also includes skipper Jack Yeandle.

Behind them, former Leicester favourite Julian Salvi returns in the back-row at the expense of another ex-Tiger, Thomas Waldrom, who has been given the weekend off by head coach Rob Baxter. The only other change to the starting XV comes on the wing where the experienced Matt Jess is given the nod over Olly Woodburn in a back three, which will also include full-back Phil Dollman, who will be making his 100th Premiership appearance. 

Chiefs coach Ali Hepher was quick to praise the contribution of the Welshman, who has been an integral part of the Chiefs make-up since he was signed from the Newport Gwent Dragons in 2008. 

“I think it’s testament to Phil that he’s achieved such a feat,” said Hepher. 

“He’s a very underrated player, he holds our back line together well, feeds in info all the time and he’s one of the smartest we have in the squad. He also gives us plenty in attack and on the ball and over the years he’s been very consistent. “I know Rob counts him as one of his best signings and, like I said, he’s done a fantastic job for us.” 

Form: Leicester Tigers three game losing run in Premiership Rugby ended with their 47- 20 victory at home to London Irish. The Tigers only defeat at Welford Road in the tournament since September 2014 came when Sale were the visitors in Round 11. Exeter Chiefs have won their last two games, at London Irish and at home to Bath, and are the second best away team in Premiership Rugby after Saracens, picking up 22 league points on the road this season. Exeter won 19-6 when the two clubs met at Sandy Park in November – the only previous occasion that the Chiefs have achieved a Premiership Rugby season double over Leicester was in 2011/12.

The teams:

Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Vereniki, Goneva, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Jono Kitto, 8 Ed Slater (c), 7 Lachlan McCaffrey, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Dom Barrow, 4 Mike Fitzgerald, 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Marcos Ayerza
Replacements: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Riccardo Brugnara, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Mike Williams, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Telusa Veainu

Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Matt Jess, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Sam Hill, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Don Armand, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Ollie Atkins, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle (c), 1 Moray Low
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Will Hooley, 23 Max Bodilly

Date: Sunday, March 6
Venue: Welford Road
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson, Paul Dix
TMO: Graham Hughes

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