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Preview: Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks

31st August 2012 10:59

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Richie gray sale portrait

Sale debut: Richie Gray

Corne Uys and Richie Gray will make their debuts for Sale Sharks against Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park on Saturday.

Danny Cipriani is set to make it three debuts for Sale if he comes off the bench.

Looking ahead to the game, Sale director of rugby Bryan Redpath said he expected a difficult road trip against last season's fifth-placed side.

"Nobody's hiding from the fact how tough the Chiefs are down there," said Redpath.

"Last year's performance at Sandy Park wasn't good enough and Sale Sharks suffered. The key thing is that we travel South West with a clear mindset of what we need to do. We have to turn up with our A1 game to compete down there. Exeter will be red hot favourites to win because they don't often lose at home, so we've nothing to lose and will give it our best shot.

"There were differences between our pre-season games against Glasgow and Leinster in terms of intensity and the playing conditions. The squad we've selected get the first crack at it and we'll see where we are after this game."

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has selected a strong line-up for the visit of the Sharks, who like the Chiefs finished last season strongly to book themselves a place in the Heineken Cup.

Indeed, of the eight new summer signings at Sandy Park, only Irish international Ian Whitten and scrum-half Will Chudley are given the nod from the outset.

Otherwise, it's a familiar looking line-up for Exeter with Tom Hayes again skippering the side from the second row. Whitten partners the experienced Jason Shoemark in the home midfield, whilst Chudley is given a chance to impress as injury deprives the home side of Haydn Thomas in the number nine jersey.

Form: Exeter Chiefs will be all out to preserve their opening day form, having won both previous round one clashes they have contested in Aviva Premiership Rugby. The Chiefs lost three of their last four games in all competitions last season. Sale Sharks' opening day reversal at Worcester last season ended a three game winning run in previous round one encounters. The Sharks ended a five game losing run on the road in the Premiership with their 24-19 victory at Gloucester on 21 April. Exeter have won all four previous encounters between the two clubs.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Exeter Chiefs:15 Phil Dollman, 14 Josh Tatupu, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 Tom Hayes (capt), 3 Craig Mitchell, 2 Chris Whitehead, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Simon Alcott, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Chris Budgen, 19 James Hanks, 20 James Phillips, 21 Kevin Barrett, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Luke Arscott.

Sale Sharks: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Will Addison, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Corne Uys, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Andy Powell, 7 David Seymour (c), 6 James Gaskell, 5 Fraser McKenzie, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Joe Ward, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Tony Buckley, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Richie Vernon, 21 Cillian Willis, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Jordan Davies.

Date: Saturday, September 1
Venue: Sandy Park
Kick-off: 15.00 BST (14.00GMT)
Referee: Andrew Small

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