Planet Rugby

Preview: Exeter v Gloucester

03rd May 2013 00:12

Share:

Matt Jess of Exeter is tackled by Charlie Sharples of Gloucester

Gunning for Europe: Exeter Chiefs

Exeter Chiefs host Gloucester in the final round of the Premiership on Saturday, knowing a Heineken Cup place is within their grasp.

Victory for the Chiefs this weekend will not only guarantee them of the final qualification spot, but it could also see Rob Baxter's side leapfrog their rivals in the league standings and potentially claim fifth spot for a second successive season.

However, fighting for the same space are Bath - who themselves face a testing final day trip to Saracens - after their latest win at home to Leicester Tigers saw them keep their own European aspirations alive and kicking.

For Baxter, his focus - and that of his team - is solely on the visit of the Cherry and Whites and ensuring they continue their impressive run of Premiership form that has seen them win five of their last six games.

"To be at this stage of the season with still something very important to fight for is an important place to be," said Baxter.

"The fact it's for a Heineken Cup place is just fantastic. I've said before, it's not the be all or end all if we do or don't get into the Heineken Cup, but what is important is that we keep developing and we keep taking steps forward. The last four or five weeks have been great for us and I look at the way the players have attacked games, especially to go after the top half of the Premiership and that makes me immensely proud.

"They have shown it's very important to them to be seen as a good side in the Premiership and that they want the challenge of the Heineken Cup. Now it's in their hands because they have worked extremely hard to create this scenario, one in which they are just one game away from making important things happen. Now they have to go out grab it with two hands, not be afraid of it, and be excited about it."

Buoyed by their impressive win at London Wasps a fortnight ago, it's little wonder that Baxter sticks with an unchanged match-day squad for their final outing. That means the Chiefs will again be led out by long-serving number eight Richard Baxter, who will be pulling on an Exeter jersey for the final time.

In a 16-year career with the club, the 34-year-old forward has amassed over 430 appearances and scored 126 tries.

Meanwhile, Gloucester Director of Rugby Nigel Davies has selected the same starting XV that defeated Saracens a fortnight ago.

With his starting XV unchanged, Davies only makes changes amongst the replacements. Hooker Darren Dawidiuk is back after suspension and Mike Tindall and Shane Monahan come in for Ryan Mills and Martyn Thomas.

Speaking to the media this week, Davies insisted that it was important for his side to finish this season on a positive note.

"When you look at the fixture, you'd say there is everything for Exeter to play for, to get that all important European qualification, and nothing for us," said Davies.

"But that's certainly not how we're looking at this game. We're very much looking at this as the start to our next season.

"We've failed to get into the top four, probably because we haven't been able to go to places like Exeter and get a result. It's very important that we establish the right mindset and focus to be able to do that.

"They're a very competitive side, play some good rugby, score lots of tries. From what they say, they were frustrated by the result up here and will be looking to make amends for it. So, it will be a tough afternoon for us."

Form: Five wins from their last six Aviva Premiership games have catapulted Exeter up the table, and with Bath two points adrift in seventh place any sort of win will secure a top-six berth for the hosts. Exeter's future lies in their own hands with victory guaranteeing them a place at Europe's top table. Bath could still spoil the party should they emerge from Saracens with victory on the final day of the season and Exeter slip up at home. Gloucester's only defeat in their last four Premiership encounters was 9-32 at Sale on 12th April. Gloucester have already secured a European Cup spot for next season, but have not won on the road since beating the Saints at Franklin's Gardens in round 14. Gloucester have the slight edge in previous Premiership encounters with the Chiefs, gaining three wins to two including an 18-16 victory at Kingsholm on 22 December.

The teams:

Exeter: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Phil Dollman, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter (c), 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Ben White, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Dave Ewers, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Ian Whitten.

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Ben Morgan 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Lua Lokotui, 4 Tom Savage (c), 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Koree Britton, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Yann Thomas, 19 Peter Buxton, 20 Andy Hazell, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Mike Tindall, 23 Shane Monahan.

Date: Saturday, May 4
Venue: Sandy Park
Kick-off: 14:30
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Peter Huckle and Paul Burton
TMO: Geoffrey Warren

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs Wasps15:00
Exeter vs Saracens16:30
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs Gloucester13:00
London Welsh vs Northampton14:30
Newcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks15:15
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South Africa14:30
England vs Australia14:30
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 28
Munster vs Ulster19:35
Cardiff Blues vs Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs Edinburgh15:00
Leinster vs Ospreys17:15
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow Warriors vs Dragons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Lyon vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Toulouse vs Grenoble20:45
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton830
2Exeter828
3Bath828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821