Preview: Exeter v Leicester

Date published: September 12 2014

Exeter number eight Thomas Waldrom will face off with his former team-mates this Saturday when the Chiefs host Leicester.

Exeter number eight Thomas Waldrom, who scored two on debut last Sunday, will face his former team-mates when the Chiefs host Leicester on Saturday.

Not surprisingly, head coach Rob Baxter sticks with a winning formula for the game, as new signings Tomas Francis, Mitch Lees, Ryan Caldwell, Chrysander Botha and Waldrom will all make their home debuts, whilst the solitary switch in personnel comes on the bench where Damian Welch returns in place of flanker Don Armand.

Like the Chiefs, Leicester opened with a win last week and coach Baxter knows whoever turns out for the visitors will be a formidable force.

“You look across their line-up and you just see dangerous players who can create things out of very little,” he warned.

“Look at their performances in recent seasons of people like Manu Tuilagi and Niki Goneva and you see the threat they cause on their own.

“At the same time, you have to think about the set-piece strength that Leicester have, as well as the unpredictability of Freddie Burns at ten, so it makes things very interesting.

“We know they are very efficient and very solid in all that they do – and you get very little easy against them. You have to work hard for what you get and even then that may not be enough. That's the threat they pose, so you can't switch off and you need to be on your mettle the whole game.”

Meanwhile, Leicester Tigers welcome back Mathew Tait, Geoff Parling and Anthony Allen.

The England trio all make a first appearance of the season, while Tom Youngs returns to the front-row after starting among the replacements for the opening-day win against Newcastle.

Robert Barbieri, who made his Tigers debut last Saturday, starts at number eight.

The replacements include an all-Italian front row of international hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini and young props Riccardo Brugnara and Tiziano Pasquali.

“Exeter have extended their stadium, laid a new pitch and we go there for their first home game of the season. We expect them to come hard at us and we'll certainly go hard at them so it has the makings of a decent game,” said Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill.

“We started with a good, solid five points last weekend but we know we have to be better and work harder.”

Form: Exeter Chiefs topped the 50 mark for the first time in Aviva Premiership Rugby on Sunday against London Welsh. The Chiefs recent form at Sandy Park has brought them just one victory in their last six matches: 18-0 against London Irish in March. The only previous occasion that Exeter has started a Premiership season with a pair of victories came in 2011/12. Leicester Tigers have lost just one of their last 13 regular season Premiership encounters: 20-24 to Harlequins at the Stoop in April. Tigers only away victory in any competition since March was 42-22 at Sale in round 21 of the Premiership. Leicester have begun the season with back-to-back victories only once since 2008, in 2012/13. The Tigers have been victorious in their last four encounters with the Chiefs, whilst their record at Sandy Park in the Premiership is won three, lost one.

The teams:

Exeter: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Ian Whitten, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Ben White, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle (capt), 1 Carl Rimmer.
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Moray Low, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Jack Arnott.

Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs (c), 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Graham Kitchener, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Logovi'i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Riccardo Brugnara, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Sebastian De Chaves, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 David Mele, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Matt Smith.

Date: Saturday, September 13
Kick-off: 15:15 BST
Venue: Sandy Park
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Paul Burton, Gordon Goodliffe
TMO: Rowan Kitt