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Johnston to make first Warriors start

Tighthead prop James Johnston will make his first start for Warriors when they travel to Sandy Park to face high-flying Exeter Chiefs in the Aviva Premiership this Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

The big Samoan is just one of two changes to the starting 15 that defeated London Irish last weekend as Sam Betty returns to the side at openside flanker.

In the backs, full-back Chris Pennell, who has made the most metres in the league this season, lines up next to wingers Bryce Heem and Cooper Vuna.

Ryan Mills and Wynand Olivier continue their partnership in the centre while Tom Heathcote and Francois Hougaard start in the half-back combination.

Val Rapava Ruskin, Niall Annett and Johnston complete the front row with Donncha O'Callaghan and Darren Barry maintaining their positions in the second row.

GJ van Velze skippers the side from the back row, with Carl Kirwan moving to blindside flanker and Betty at seven.

Three Pears Academy prop Gareth Milasinovich is named on the bench, as Warriors search for a fifth win on the bounce.

Director of Rugby Dean Ryan said: "Exeter are always dangerous at home and they see the game quickly.
 
"I'm really looking for us to step up and see the progress we've made. We need to step up mentally in how we see things.
 
"Exeter are one of the fastest and the way they play stretches people's thinking and can catch you off guard.
 
"We're only two or three wins off the group above us so we've got to keep working away and try and close that gap."

Warriors

15 Chris Pennell
14 Bryce Heem
13 Wynand Olivier
12 Ryan Mills
11 Cooper Vuna
10 Tom Heathcote
9 Francois Hougaard

1 Val Rapava Ruskin
2 Niall Annett
3 James Johnston
4 Donncha O'Callaghan
5 Darren Barry
6 Carl Kirwan
7 Sam Betty
8 GJ van Velze (C)

Replacements
16 Jaba Bregvadze
17 Na'ama Leleimalefaga
18 Gareth Milasinovich
19 Dan Sanderson
20 Matt Cox
21 Luke Baldwin
22 Ryan Lamb
23 Andy Symons

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