Preview: Ospreys v Exeter

Date published: November 13 2015

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Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy has made three changes to his forward pack for their Champions Cup opener against Exeter Chiefs on Sunday.

The Liberty Stadium meeting will see Dmitri Arhip (tighthead) and Dan Lydiate (blindside) come in while James King moves to number eight.

Lydiate and scrum-half Brendon Leonard will make their first appearance in Ospreys colours in this competition in a tough opening fixture.

Meanwhile, Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has named an unchanged starting pack for the trip to Swansea.

Ahead of kick-off, Baxter has been buoyed by the return to training this week of both Ben Moon and Geoff Parling, but neither will be risked in Swansea.

Also missing out will be Thomas Waldrom (thigh) and Phil Dollman (rib) both of whom were forced off during last weekend's win over Leicester Tigers.

That means Baxter sticks with an unchanged starting pack for the game, whilst Sam Hill comes into the centre in place of Ian Whitten and Matt Jess is promoted from the bench to the wing, meaning England international Jack Nowell takes over at full-back from Dollman. 

On the bench, Tom Johnson is included in the first team squad for the first time this campaign, as is Italian newcomer Michele Campagnaro, who himself is no stranger to the competition having played for Treviso in the past.

Form: This will be the first meeting between Ospreys and Exeter in European competition. Ospreys have won just two of their last 14 games in the competition (D2, L10) and are winless in their last nine matches against English opposition (D1, L8). Ospreys are aiming to avoid defeat in consecutive home matches in the Champions Cup since their first two matches in the competition in 2003/04. Ospreys will be aiming to score 20 points in consecutive matches for the first time since October 2012. Exeter have won four of their 12 games in the competition; however those four wins all came against Welsh opposition. Four of the Chiefs' last five games in this competition have been settled by margins of fewer than seven points (W1, L4).

The teams:

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Dafydd Howells, 13 Jonathan Spratt, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Ben John.

Exeter: 15 Jack Nowell, 14 Matt Jess, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Will Chudley, 8 Don Armand, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Alec Hepburn.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Moray Low, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Ian Whitten, 23 Michele Campagnaro.

Date: Sunday, November 15
Venue: Liberty Stadium
Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Giuseppe Vivarini (Italy), Stefano Roscini (Italy)
TMO: Stefano Pennè (Italy)

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