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Preview: Exeter Chiefs v Wasps

Preview: Exeter Chiefs v Wasps

Thomas Waldrom cannot contain his excitement ahead of Exeter Chiefs’ crucial clash with fellow Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-finalists Wasps on Sunday.

It is second versus third at Sandy Park, with Wasps able to secure a home semi-final if they win with a bonus point, while Rob Baxter’s side must win to retain hope of their first ever taste of Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-final action being at home.

Wasps won an epic clash at the Ricoh in the Champions Cup quarter-finals, while Chiefs clinched a bonus point in a high-scoring encounter in December – and the two clubs are likely to meet again in the league’s last four.

Waldrom, Aviva Premiership Rugby’s top try-scorer on 13, believes the two sides’ styles lend themselves perfectly to a spectacle and is sure that their third clash this season will be another classic.

“We enjoy playing Wasps because they play a great brand of rugby and so do we. It is always a game you look forward to because there’s going to be some good running rugby,” the New Zealand born No.8 said.
“It is going to be a really important game, but the season is in our hands and it is up to us now to take that opportunity, try get the home advantage if we go out and play well.

“We have control over our own destiny and that is massive for us; we want that home semi-final.”

Though Waldrom makes way for Don Armand to start at No.8 on Sunday, the former England international is sure to make an impact from the bench and says the squad depth is forcing him to constantly up his performance.

He said: “For us, there’s competition in all positions, we need to perform to keep that spot and keep pushing forward.

“We have had a few injuries, a couple of boys missing – (Henry) Slade, Dave Ewers – and that meant people had to show leadership, to step up and that has ultimately helped us as the season has gone on.”

Dai Young’s side meanwhile suffered European heartbreak of their own against league-leaders Saracens last weekend, but with a first semi-final since they won the league in 2008 guaranteed, stand-out centre Siale Piutau believes their 24-17 defeat can fuel their Aviva Premiership Rugby ambitions.

Piutau starts alongside Elliot Daly in the centre once more, with brother Charles a shoe-in at full-back and 24-times capped Tongan international Siale thinks a home semi-final is well within their grasp.  

“We can take a lot of heart from the Saracens game, we all know we were only five per cent off what we can play,”Piutau said.

“Full credit to Saracens, they've got all that experience of being in the position of a major semi-final.
“They're able to withstand that pressure and I think the positives we can take from that is we've been there now and I think it's going to set us up nicely for the Aviva Premiership.

“The great thing about rugby is you can have tough losses but you get to jump back on the horse the next week and go out there and put a performance in.”

Sandy Park, 1pm – Live on BT Sport

Referee: Matthew Carly (44th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix & Ashley Rowden. TMO: Graham Hughes.

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