Preview: Exeter v London Irish

Date published: October 10 2014

Rob Baxter has demanded a reaction from his Exeter Chiefs team when they take on London Irish at Sandy Park this Saturday.

Rob Baxter has demanded a reaction from his Exeter Chiefs team when they take on London Irish at Sandy Park this Saturday.

Exeter became the first team to lose to Newcastle in almost a year last time out, and have made five changes as a result.

Carl Rimmer starts at prop in place of Ben Moon, Mitch Lees returns in the second row, while Don Armand reverts to the back row as Ben White is suffering with a knock.

The other changes comes in the back division where England starlets Sam Hill and Jack Nowell both return with Ian Whitten and Tom James dropping to the bench.

“It goes without saying that, being at home and after a loss, we are obviously going to expect a kind of psychological backlash from it,” said Baxter.

“Having said that, you can’t just expect it and you can’t take it for granted.

“Players doing their specific jobs flat-out is what makes a team strong. That is where we wavered last week and it is where we have to be strong this time round.

“We went there prepared for a very tough game and we got what we expected. Of course we’re disappointed with the result, simply because we felt we were on good form and producing some good rugby.

“However, we dropped off a little bit the level of quality that we had been producing previously and because of that we probably got what we deserved.”

Meanwhile Brian Smith has made four changes to the London Irish team that lost to Northampton last time out.

Tom Guest starts in the back row with Scott Steele returning to scrum half. Eamonn Sheridan starts at outside centre with Topsy Ojo returning to the wing.

Tom Court, David Paice and Halani Aulika make up the front row for the sixth week in a row.

Jebb Sinclair and George Skivington start together in the second row. Tom Guest will start in the back row along with Kieran Low and Luke Narraway.

Chris Noakes and Scott Steele form the half back pairing with Shane Geraghty and Eamonn Sheridan in the centre. Topsy Ojo, Alex Lewington and Andrew Fenby make up the back three.

“It is the last game of the toughest block of games any team has had,” said Smith.

“We’ve decided to rotate the squad and get fresh legs on the park for what we expect to be a high tempo match.

“We’ve collected 12 points so far and we’re determined to finish this block of games with a big performance.”

Form: The Chiefs became the first side to be beaten by Newcastle Falcons in Aviva Premiership Rugby in almost a year – the Falcons ending a 20-game losing streak with the 29-24 win at Kingston Park. Having won three of their opening four matches before last Sunday, Rob Baxter’s men saw their momentum halted with a number of uncharacteristic errors proving costly. History sides with the Chiefs in this fixture – Exeter have won the last five encounters and Irish have won just once at Sandy Park, that coming on their very first visit in October 2010. But Brian Smith’s side have proved so far this season they are no pushovers on their travels and will be going for a third consecutive away victory in the competition for the first time since November 2008.

Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle (c), 1 Carl Rimmer
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Brett Sturgess, 18 Moray Low, 19 Ryan Caldwell, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Ian Whitten, 23 Tom James

Irish: 15 Andrew Fenby, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Eamonn Sheridan, 12 Shane Geraghty, 11 Topsy Ojo, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Luke Narraway, 7 Tom Guest, 6 Kieran Low, 5 Jebb Sinclair, 4 George Skivington (c), 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 Matt Parr, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Dan Leo, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Tom