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Preview: Exeter v Bath

03rd February 2012 09:22

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Ben Moon Exeter v Harlequins 2011

Ben Moon: Returns from injury

Exeter Chiefs may head into Sunday's LV= Cup clash with Bath not knowing whether they will make the semi-finals, but for coach Rob Baxter the task ahead remains the same.

With his side on a four-game winning streak, Baxter is keen not only for his team to maintain their unbeaten record, but also to gain some additional momentum as the Chiefs prepare to return to Aviva Premiership action in just over a week's time.

Of course league matters remain the 'bread and butter' for the Chiefs, but showing further progression in other competitions is never a bad thing and Baxter knows his players could yet seal a play-off spot in the LV= Cup if they beat Bath and results elsewhere go in their favour.

"It's an interesting one really," explained Baxter.

"As regards to qualification, we will probably know where we stand before kick-off on Sunday, which in itself is unusual.

"It could be out of our hands (should Northampton claim maximum points against Wasps on Saturday), but we are not going to know for a little while yet.

With vital games on the horizon and Baxter keen to utilise his whole first team squad, it comes as little surprise that the Chiefs have once again opted for a healthy mix of youth and experience in their ranks for the clash with Bath.

"It's important that we look at all aspects of the squad," explained Baxter.

"At the moment we have a relatively fit squad and with rugby players they want to play rugby.

"Sometimes that is the hardest thing to manage, giving them all game time, but we've managed to do it well over the last month or so.

"As I said, everyone is fit, everyone is up and running and hopefully we can keep playing with some form."

James Hanks, who only returned to first team duty during last weekend's win at London Wasps following a knee injury, will skipper a Chiefs side that sees Ben Moon return to the fold after injury, as well as first starts of the season for Chris Budgen, Junior Poluleuligaga and Academy youngster Jack Arnott.

Winger Arnott, a debutant off the bench at Adams Park last time out, comes into a re-jigged Exeter back line that see Myles Dorrian take over at fly-half from Gareth Steenson, whilst Samoan star Poluleuligaga is given the nod at nine ahead of Pat Phibbs.

Up front, Moon and Budgen take over from Luke Cowan-Dickie and Craig Mitchell - both of whom are on international duty - whilst Chad Slade is another returning after injury at No.8 in place of James Phillips.

Baxter admits he is delighted to see so many of his squad back up and running, whilst the inclusion of a number of Academy starlets is yet another positive for the Exeter leader.

The teams:

Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Mark Foster, 13 Bryan Rennie, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Jack Arnott, 10 Myles Dorrian, 9 Junior Poluleuligaga, 8 Chad Slade, 7 Ben White, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 James Hanks (c), 4 Peter Short, 3 Chris Budgen, 2 Chris Whitehead, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Tom Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ben Rogers, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Chris Bentley, 20 Sam Blanchet, 21 Pat Phibbs, 22 Sam Jones, 23 James Lightfoot-Brown.

Bath: 15 Sam Vesty, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Olly Barkley, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Francois Louw (c), 5 Ben Skirving, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Lee Mears, 1 David Flatman.
Replacements: 16 Pieter Dixon, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 David Wilson, 19 Ryan Caldwell, 20 Josh Ovens, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Nick Scott, 23 Richard Lane.

Date: Sunday, February 5
Kick-off: 17:00
Venue: Sandy Park

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