Fixtures - Top Bar

Chiefs side to face Bath Rugby

Ali Hepher insists Exeter Chiefs will need to put in a "stellar home performance" if they are to emerge triumphant from Sunday’s Aviva Premiership encounter with Bath at Sandy Park (1pm).

Having accrued just one win in 11 previous top flight encounters against their nearest and dearest, the Chiefs are hoping to inflict further woe on Mike Ford’s side, who are surprisingly languishing ninth in the current standings.

Beaten last May in the Premiership Final by Saracens, Bath have struggled to replicate the kind of form which helped to propel them to Twickenham. With just four wins to date in the league, time is fast running out for the Roman City club in their quest to reach the play-offs.

One of those four successes, however, came against the Chiefs on the opening day of the season, when they edged out their Devon rivals 19-17 at the Rec.

Since then, the Chiefs have impressed many with their league form and having returned to winning ways last weekend against lowly London Irish, backs coach Hepher is hoping his side can repeat the feat in front of a sell-out crowd.

"It’s a local derby and a big game not just for us as players and coaches, but also for the fans," said Hepher. "It’s also an important Premiership fixture and we need to collect as many points as possible."

After successive away days at Sale Sharks and London Irish, the Chiefs are back on home soil for the first time since surrendering their 13-month long unbeaten home record to Saracens.

Hepfer admitted the Exeter players were disappointed to see their record fall by the wayside, but he’s well aware they are already challenging themselves inwardly to go on another run, starting with a big display this weekend.

"It will be good to get back on our own patch and put in a big performance for the fans," added Hepher. "Add it into the mix that it’s a local derby as well and it has all the makings of being a great game of rugby.

"We’ve picked up two wins in the last four weeks, but we’ve also had three away games in that time as well. Yes, it was disappointing to lose the home record, but it doesn’t mean we are a bad side at home. What it does mean is we have qualities within the squad, which we have shown all year.

"From our perspective, we know we have got to put in a stellar home performance this weekend and if we do that, then the result should take care of itself."

With a healthy eight-point cushion to Wasps in third place, the Chiefs know victory this weekend will inch them ever closer to securing a play-off berth but, more crucially, keep the ever-increasing chasing pack at bay for at least another week.

Hepher continued: "We’re aware everyone is coming behind us, but we’re out in front [with Saracens] and we’d rather be there than chasing. What we have to do, however, is focus on this weekend and look to get as many points as possible.  

"From the outset we knew this would one of the most competitive Premiership seasons ever and it’s proved that way. Every team is capable of winning games and as Rob said last week, we may be clear of relegation, we still have a huge amount of work to do between now and the end of the season."

Although victorious last time out, the Chiefs have tinkered with their winning formula for this latest encounter. Up front Luke Cowan-Dickie and Harry Williams are brought into the front row, the latter for his first-ever Premiership start, whilst Dave Ewers is also included in the pack for the first time since last November.

With the imposing Ewers returning to the fold, Don Armand moves to the openside flank with Julian Salvi nursing a knock from last weekend’s game at Irish.

The only other change in personnel comes at scrum-half where Dave Lewis, who has scored tries at both Sale and Irish, is given the nod over Will Chudley.

Even with the change in personnel, Hepher says the Chiefs players can expected to be tested in every facet of the game by Sunday’s rivals.

"They’ll be disappointed with where they are, but if you look at their team and their players, they have the ability to win any game of rugby," warned Hepher. "They still pose many threats, so we have to make sure we are right on top of our game to handle them.

"Things have moved on since the start of the season and both sides are a different proposition to what they were then. Their side will have a changed a bit because of injuries and international call-ups, but they’ve still lots of different options available to them. As always we’ll concentrate on ourselves as much as possible and then look for themes within their play."

15 Phil Dollman
14 Olly Woodburn
13 Ian Whitten
12 Sam Hill
11 James Short
10 Gareth Steenson (capt)
9 Dave Lewis

1 Ben Moon
2 Luke Cowan-Dickie
3 Harry Williams
4 Jonny Hill
5 Geoff Parling
6 Dave Ewers
7 Don Armand
8 Thomas Waldrom

16 Jack Yeandle
17 Alec Hepburn
18 Alex Brown
19 Ollie Atkins
20 Kai Horstmann
21 Will Chudley
22 Will Hooley
23 Max Bodilly

Latest News

Match Report: Harlequins 32 Wasps 13

Nick Evans capped a memorable final appearance for Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop by scoring 22 points as they downed…

Alafoti Faosiliva commits future to Worcester Warriors

Samoa international Alafoti Faosiliva will continue his Sixways career after committing his future to the Club. The 31-year-old arrived at…

Alafoti Faosiliva

AUDIO: Preview of this weekend’s Aviva Premiership action

It's the penultimate round of regular-season matches in the Aviva Premiership this weekend - Russell Hargreaves has the details.

Saracens name side to face Bristol Rugby

Saracens have named their team to face Bristol in round 21 of the Aviva Premiership on Saturday at Allianz Park,…

Schalk Brits

Northampton Saints team news versus Exeter Chiefs

The Northampton Saints team has been named for the Aviva Premiership Round 21 trip to Exeter. Injuries to Louis Picamoles…

JJ Hanrahan

Garvey to start for Bath Rugby in West Country derby

Matt Garvey will make his first start for Bath Rugby since January in the West Country Aviva Premiership derby against…

Matt Garvey

Gloucester Rugby make just one change for trip to Bath

Gloucester Rugby keep faith with the majority of the side that triumphed in La Rochelle last weekend, making just one…

Mariano Galarza

Exeter Chiefs side to face Northampton Saints

Rob Baxter says it’s vital his Exeter Chiefs grasp every opportunity afforded to them as they look to maintain their…

Gareth Steenson

Leicester Tigers team news for final home game

Graham Kitchener and Adam Thompstone will make their 100th starting appearances in a Leicester Tigers shirt in the final home…

Adam Thompstone

Team News for Bristol Rugby to face Saracens

Olly Robinson returns to the starting line-up as Bristol Rugby face reigning Premiership champions Saracens on Saturday (3pm KO). The…

Olly Robinson

Four Changes For Sharks Ahead of Tigers Clash

Sale Sharks have named their side to take on Leicester Tigers this Saturday at Welford Road in the Aviva Premiership…

Josh Charnley

Callum Chick not given up on top-six finish for Newcastle Falcons

Promising Newcastle Falcons flanker Callum Chick hasn't given up on helping his side qualify for a Champions Cup place next…

Jack Singleton still buzzing after baptism of fire at Worcester Warriors

Jack Singleton admits he never expected to get as much Aviva Premiership Rugby game time as he has had this…

Saracens sign Wales international lock Dominic Day

Saracens have completed the signing of Wales international lock forward Dominic Day for the for the upcoming 2017/18 season. 31-year…

Dominic Day

Tom Heathcote extends his stay at Worcester Warriors

Worcester Warriors are delighted to announce that Scotland international Tom Heathcote has put pen to paper on a new contract…

Tom Heathcote

Minimum standards criteria results

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has considered the findings of an independent audit report of the Greene King IPA Championship…

World Rugby welcomes Berlin Consensus Statement on concussion in sport

Expert group publishes comprehensive review of scientific papers on concussion Rugby continues to be aligned with recommended best practice Cross-sport…

Mark Lambert issues rallying call for Harlequins’ top-six push

A third season in a row without top flight European rugby is not an option for a club of Harlequins’…

Gloucester’s Henry Trinder: Top-six place at stake adds to West Country derby

Gloucester will be travelling to The Rec for their West Country derby against Bath in the Aviva Premiership on Sunday…

Henry Trinder