Fixtures - Top Bar

Chiefs side to face Newcastle Falcons

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter says he has a group of players looking forward to returning to Aviva Premiership duty tomorrow at home to Newcastle Falcons (4:30pm).

After a month of action which has seen the Devon club advance to the knock-out stages of both the European Challenge and LV= Cups, it’s back to the bread and butter of the top flight for the Chiefs.

Baxter has watched on with quiet satisfaction at the way his team has rediscovered their winning formula – particularly after they lost four successive Premiership games either side of Christmas – and he is hopeful they can continue their renaissance against the visiting Northerners.

"We’ve got a group of players that are looking forward to getting back to Premiership action, particularly at home," said Baxter ahead of this weekend’s Sandy Park encounter. "I’m not going to say I am expecting anything, simply because that has been our issue a lot this season.

"Sometimes we have expected things to happen or we’ve expected performances, but what I am asking for this week is that we show a quality of performance and what we do on the pitch means that the result is in our hands and doesn’t come down to one or two slight things that will happen in games – because that is what has hurt us in our last few Premiership games."

Despite Exeter’s disappointing run of Premiership results, the fifth-placed Chiefs are still firmly in the mix at the top end of the table, lying just a point behind next best Wasps and three behind Saracens, who lie in third.

And Baxter is hopeful a strong run of results in this next block of games will drive the club further forward and keep them in the hunt for honours entering into the final throws of the season.

"We’ve made no secret that the Premiership is our focus," added Baxter. "We’ve said all season we want to get back into the top flight of Europe because it’s great to be there for a number of reasons. The main one, I suppose, is it’s the closest thing to playing international rugby without having players in that competition.

"It’s also important for us going forward as a club because we want our players to put themselves forward in what are the best shop windows – and for me that’s the Premiership and the Champions’ Cup.

"We have been there twice before, we enjoyed the experience and we learnt a great deal from those two years. But, as I said before, we’re an ambitious club and we want to be there on a regular basis. Right now we’re fifth in the table, which is great, but we know there is a long way to go and a lot of hard work to put in if that is all to come to fruition."

That hard work begins in earnest tomorrow against the Falcons, who having defeated the Chiefs at home back in October, are now targeting a first-ever victory at Sandy Park.

Baxter is aware of the threat posed by Dean Richards’ side, but rather than focus too much on the visitors, he has been keen to tweak certain parts of the Exeter game plan ahead of kick-off.

"Newcastle are a good side, they’re competitive and they are enjoying what they are doing," said Baxter. "The focus for us, however, is more on ourselves. We’ve got an important month coming up and it starts this Saturday.

"Being fifth is great and being one point off fourth is also great, but are we where we want to be?

"Probably after the last round of Premiership games we’d probably say ‘no’. The players are somewhat frustrated with that block because they know they let a couple of wins slip through their fingers, so we have to make sure we use that as an important motivation for this weekend."

Baxter continued: "What is encouraging is the last month has shown we have a real depth to our squad. The European performance were very pleasing, especially to get a home quarter-final, then we changed things up for the LV and we put in another two very good performances.

"Three wins out of four was pleasing, but I think as a group we learnt a lot from last week’s defeat at Saracens. What it showed was where we did the right things for a long period, that’s when we were in contention and even in the lead. It was once we stopped doing the right things, that’s when we struggled.

"If you give good sides an ‘in’ into the game, often they’ll punish you and that’s what happened last week. Saracens had a good ten minutes that ultimately decided the game."

With Jack Nowell released from England’s training camp earlier this week, Baxter has a wealth of riches to pick from ahead of kick-off. Not surprisingly, the majority of his frontline stars all return having sat out the past fortnight, whilst scrum-half Will Chudley also starts against his former club.

Tickets for the game are still available online via the club’s official website or can be purchased on the day of the game via the Ticket Office, which opens three hours prior to kick-off.

The England versus Italy encounter in the Six Nations will be shown on ALL screens around the stadium prior to the game.

15 Phil Dollman
14 Ian Whitten
13 Jack Nowell
12 Sam Hill
11 Matt Jess
10 Henry Slade
9 Will Chudley

1 Ben Moon
2 Luke Cowan-Dickie
3 Tomas Francis
4 Dean Mumm (capt)
5 Damian Welch
6 Dave Ewers
7 Ben White
8 Thomas Waldrom

16 Jack Yeandle
17 Carl Rimmer
18 Alex Brown
19 Mitch Lees
20 Tom Johnson
21 Haydn Thomas
22 Gareth Steenson
23 Byron McGuigan

Latest News

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

Referee appointments: Barnes, Garner and Doyle all in action

Three of Aviva Premiership Rugby’s most experienced referees will take to the field this weekend as another highly-charged round of…

The Premiership Rugby Final Photographic competition

To mark exactly one month to go to the 15th Premiership Rugby Final, on 27 May, Premiership Rugby are holding a…

Owen Farrell

Wasps team to play Harlequins at The Stoop

Director of Rugby Dai Young has named his side to travel to The Twickenham Stoop on Friday night to face…

Josh Bassett

Newcastle Falcons team to face Worcester Warriors

Sonatane Takulua returns as one of five changes to Newcastle Falcons’ team for Friday’s Aviva Premiership visit of Worcester Warriors…

Sonatane Takulua

Heem returns for Worcester Warriors for Newcastle Falcons trip

Worcester Warriors have made four changes to the starting line-up ahead of Friday night’s trip to Kingston Park to take…

Bryce Heem

Harlequins team to play Wasps

Harlequins has announced the team to play Wasps in Round 21 of the Aviva Premiership at The Stoop tomorrow, kick-off…

Nick Evans

Ian Evans to retire from professional rugby

Based on medical advice, Ian Evans has regrettably had to retire from professional rugby following fifteen years in the sport.…

Ian Evans

Saracens to bid farewell to legendary pair against Bristol

On Saturday afternoon Saracens will bid a final farewell to two of the club’s most revered players, with Kelly Brown…

Kelly Brown

Jon Fisher to take a break from professional rugby

Jonathan Fisher, by mutual agreement with Bristol Rugby, has opted to take time out to assess his playing career following…

Jon Fisher

Planning Application for Allianz Park West Stand Improvement Approved by Barnet Council

Saracens are pleased to announce that planning application to improve Allianz Park has now been approved by Barnet Council at…

Allianz Park

Fruean expecting extra special derby for Bath Rugby

The contrasting fortunes of Bath Rugby and Gloucester Rugby in their respective European Challenge Cup semi-finals will add extra spice…

Fitzgerald confident Leicester Tigers can go all the way to Aviva Premiership Rugby Final

Leicester Tigers’ Mike Fitzgerald admits it’s been a tricky year for the club on and off the pitch but is…

Sale Sharks’ Denny Solomona licking his lips at chance to join England ranks

Sale Sharks’ Denny Solomona admits he is relishing the chance to taste international rugby following his inclusion in England’s squad…

Mark Wilson out to help Newcastle Falcons to 15-year high

Having been at the forefront of their improved efforts this season, Mark Wilson is determined to help Newcastle Falcons to…

Mark Wilson

‘Time to pick up where we left off,’ says Wasps’ Matt Mullan ahead of Harlequins showdown

Matt Mullan has his fingers crossed that Wasps can tune back in to the momentum that has taken them to…

Worcester Warriors bring in Defence & Kicking Strategy Coach Omar Mouneimne

Worcester Warriors have recruited Omar Mouneimne as Defence & Kicking Strategy Coach. The South African, who has a wealth of…

Omar Mouneimne