Preview: Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins

Date published: March 10 2017

Exeter Chiefs have named their side to face Harlequins in their Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-final at Sandy Park on Sunday.

As expected there are several changes to the starting line-up that beat Leicester Tigers in their Premiership fixture at Welford Road last weekend. 

Prop Harry Williams, scrum-half Stuart Townsend and centre Ollie Devoto are the sole survivors in what is another powerful looking Exeter line-up.

In the back-line there are five changes with Lachie Turner taking over from Phill Dollman at full-back while Matt Jess and Max Bodilly replace Olly Woodburn and James Short on the wings.

Olly Devoto moves from inside to outside centre where he replaces Ian Whitten while Sam Hill will wear the number 12 jersey and Joe Simmonds comes in for Henry Slade at fly-half.

In the forwards, captain Julian Salvi starts on the openside flank where he comes in for Kai Horstmann while Sam Simmonds and Ben White replace Thomas Waldrom and Don Armand at number eight and on the blindside flank respectively.

Damian Welch and Ollie Atkins start in the second row where they replace Geoff Parling and Mitch Lees while Shaun Malton and Ben Moon are preferred to Luke Cowan-Dickie and Carl Rimmer at hooker and loosehead prop respectively.

Ricky Pellow insists he and his Exeter Chiefs side are ‘ready for battle’ ahead of the clash.

Looking to reach a third successive final, Devon’s finest must first overcome their capital-based rivals, who themselves have the added incentive of knowing a victory this weekend would ensure they run out in the first showpiece final of the season on home soil a week later.

The Chiefs know from past experience how much of a carrot playing a final at your own home stadium can be – they won this very competition at Sandy Park back in 2014 – and Pellow has warned his players they must be ready to meet the Quins’ threat head on.

“We know exactly what they will bring, especially with the prospect of a home final for them,” he said.

“They are a good side, who play like to play with real tempo and have some very good players in their squad. 

"They’ll also have the incentive of trying to rip the game away from us at the same time. As I said, we’re expecting them to be very strong, it’s a big game for both of us, and one that will be a real battle I’m sure.”

Meanwhile, Harlequins have made four changes to their run-on side that played Gloucester last week.

Ruaridh Jackson is named at fly-half in place of Tim Swiel who suffered an oblique injury last week. Alofa Alofa starts on the wing.

In the forwards, Adam Jones comes in to the front row, as George Naoupu starts at blindside flanker.

Naoupu replaces James Chisholm who misses out through concussion sustained in last week’s match.

Among the replacements, Ryan Hodson, who recently joined the Club from London Welsh, will look to make his senior debut.

Speaking ahead of the match Harlequins director of rugby, John Kingston, said: “Semi-finals are always a fantastic occasion and we are obviously pleased to have reached this stage.

“We are focussed on making the Anglo-Welsh Cup Final, particularly in light of the fact that it will be at The Stoop.

“Exeter are without question the in-form team in the country and with their home support behind them, it will present a formidable challenge. Having said that, the squad is in great heart and we are looking forward to the match.”

The teams:

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Matt Jess, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Max Bodilly, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Stuart Townsend, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Julian Salvi (c), 6 Ben White, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Ollie Atkins, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Shaun Malton, 1 Ben Moon 
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Billy Keast, 18 Moray Low, 19 Jonny Hill, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Will Hooley, 23 Tom Hendrickson

Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Matt Hopper, 11 Alofa Alofa, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Charlie Mulchrone, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Dave Ward (c), 6 George Naoupu, 5 Charlie Matthews, 4 George Merrick, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Mark Lambert
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Matt Shields, 19 Stan South, 20 Ryan Hodson, 21 Luc Jones, 22 James Lang, 23 Charlie Walker

Date: Sunday, March 12
Venue: Sandy Park
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Dan Jones (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Simon Rees (Wales), Gareth Newman (Wales)
TMO: Paul Adams (Wales)