Big Match Preview: Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester Rugby in the Champions Cup
Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester Rugby have both made impressive starts in Gallagher Premiership Rugby, sitting second and third respectively, but attentions now turn to securing success in the Champions Cup.
Both sides are looking for a win in Pool 2 to boost their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages, and winless Exeter will be eager to repeat their 23-6 victory over Gloucester in domestic action just over a week ago.
What’s at stake?
For both Exeter and Gloucester a defeat on Saturday would mean that qualification from the pool would become increasingly difficult, especially if table-toppers Munster earn a home victory against Castres on Sunday.
The Chiefs narrowly lost in the Champions Cup quarter-finals in 2016, but since then have failed to make it past the pool stage and would love to make it to the knockouts once again.
Exeter will be buoyed by their recent victory over Gloucester in the Gallagher Premiership, and a win here could make a tight pool look very interesting.
— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) November 25, 2018
Form so far
Gloucester and Exeter have just one win between them in the four matches they’ve played in the Champions Cup so far this season.
An impressive 19-14 victory for Gloucester over Castres in Round 1 got their ball rolling whilst the Cherry and Whites also impressed in Round 2 in a 36-22 defeat at Munster – always the toughest of away days.
Gloucester also put defeat against Exeter firmly behind them in a resounding 36-16 win against Worcester Warriors in domestic action.
POWER from @Freddie_Clarke 👊
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) December 2, 2018
Exeter have been in fine form in the Gallagher Premiership, winning eight of nine league games and only losing that unbeaten run on Friday night at Harlequins.
In Europe, Exeter have lost out 29-25 at Castres but drew 10-10 with Munster in Round 1.
Gloucester have failed to win in recent times at Sandy Park, with Exeter comfortably winning in Gloucester’s last two visits – 46-10 in April and 23-6 in November.
The last time the two sides met in European competition the match finished 30-19 to Gloucester at Kingsholm, but the Chiefs have made significant progress since that semi-final defeat in the European Challenge Cup.
The sides met just two weeks ago as Exeter ruthlessly dispatched their opponents 23-6 to record an eighth straight Gallagher Premiership Rugby victory.
Tries from Nic White and Alex Cuthbert set Exeter on their comeback after two early penalties from Danny Cipriani put the visitors 0-6 ahead.
Gareth Steenson converted both tries and added three penalties to wrap up an assured victory and inflict a third league defeat of the season on Gloucester.
Henry Slade has continued the impressive form that has seen him earn a place as a regular starter in Eddie Jones’ England side.
The centre has three tries to his name this season and has perhaps been the standout outside centre in Gallagher Premiership Rugby, finding space in the 13 channel at will whilst also offering superb tactical kicking.
Danny Cipriani is one of the men Gloucester will be looking to for inspiration, and the England fly-half is no stranger to the Champions Cup having represented Wasps in the competition in recent years.
The playmaker has made an impressive start to life at Gloucester, registering 62 points so far this term.
The 31-year-old has brought a new organisation to Gloucester’s attack that sees them up to third in Gallagher Premiership Rugby, and has the passing game to cause Exeter real problems on Saturday.