Exeter Chiefs v London Welsh Premiership Preview

Exeter Chiefs host Northampton Saints at Sandy Park

Exeter Chiefs have named their team to play Aviva Premiership strugglers London Welsh on Saturday at Sandy Park.

Exeter assistant coach Ali Hepher has issued a timely warning to those who think the Chiefs merely have to turn up tomorrow to ensure themselves of a 11th Premiership win of the campaign.

Sixteen league defeats this term – including a 52-0 loss at home to the Chiefs on the opening weekend of the season – is hardly the stat the visiting Exiles would have wanted on their return to English rugby’s top table, but Hepher acknowledges the threat their rivals pose despite their difficulties.

“They are not a bad side,” said Hepher. “Watching the game from earlier in the season, they had opportunities early door which, if they hung onto then, the game could well have been different. We’re aware how much we had put into that game to get a result and we have to have the same approach again this weekend.

“Of course London Welsh will be disappointed from their perspective how things have gone, but if you watch the tapes – like we do – they are still threatening in attack; their defensive structure is organised and they take some knocking down, so we’ve got lots of work to do this weekend to get a win.”

“To be a top side at this level, this is when you want to be involved in big games and we’re going to be involved in some big games coming up. That will be a great test for the guys and a great test for us as coaches, but it will certainly be exciting and something we will relish.”

It is little surprise therefore that the Chiefs stick with the tried and trusted personnel of a week ago. Aussie international Dean Mumm skippers the side from the second-row, whilst Will Chudley and Henry Slade – who between them scored all of Exeter’s points against Bath – again form the half-back pairing.

Exeter Chiefs’ only defeat in their last seven matches in all competitions was 18-35 at Saracens in round 4 of the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

The only two visitors to have won at Sandy Park in any competition this season are Leicester in September and Gloucester in January, both in Aviva Premiership Rugby.

London Welsh’s only league point garnered in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season was a try bonus in round 2 at Bath, whilst their opponents have tallied 78 league points.

Exeter have won their last three fixtures against London Welsh since the Exiles 25-24 victory at Kassam Stadium in Aviva Premiership Rugby in September 2012.

London Welsh have lost on all six previous visits they have made to Sandy Park in all competitions and have not beaten Exeter on their own soil since a visit to the old County Ground in National One in October 2000.

London Welsh have made ten changes as Nick Scott, Carl Kirwan, James Lewis, Olly Barkley and Dean Schofield have all been ruled out after picking up injuries in last weekend’s defeat to London Irish, to take London Welsh’s current injury list to 21.

In the backs, Nic Reynolds comes in for James Lewis at outside centre and Alan Awcock replaces Nick Scott on the left wing. Tristan Roberts starts at fly half.

In the forwards, Number 8 Opeti Fonua is the only survivor from the loss to Irish. Nathan Trevett, Nathan Morris and Taione Vea all return to the front row, while Ben West comes in for Dean Schofield in the second row, where he’ll partner James Down.

Lachlan McCaffrey is named at blindside flanker with Richard Thorpe replacing Carl Kirwan at openside. Thorpe will captain the side.

On the bench, Chis Hala’ufia is set to make his first appearance for the Exiles since their defeat to Wasps at Adams Park in November.

The London Welsh starting XV includes eight members of its Championship winning team of last season, with four more named on the bench.

The last time Welsh visited Sandy Park the Chiefs won 46-17 in February 2012. Indeed, Sandy Park hasn’t been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Exiles in the past, with Welsh without a win from their six previous visits to the ground.

Match : Exeter Chiefs v London Welsh
Date : Saturday 7th March
Venue : Sandy Park,
Kick Off : 3pm
Live on: N.A
Match Officials
Referee :
Craig Maxwell-Keys (2 nd Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Peter Huckle and Andrew Pearce.
TMO: Geoff Warren.

Teams

Exeter Chiefs

15 Phil Dollman, 14 Tom James, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Henry Slade, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (c), 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Carl Rimmer.

Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Brett Sturgess, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Ben White, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Byron McGuigan.

London Welsh

15 Elliot Kear, 14 Seb Stegmann, 13 Nic Reynolds, 12 James Tincknell, 11 Alan Awcock, 10 Tristan Roberts, 9 Rob Lewis, 8 Opeti Fonua, 7 Richard Thorpe (c), 6 Lachlan McCaffrey, 5 James Down, 4 Ben West, 3 Taione Vea, 2 Nathan Morris, 1 Nathan Trevett.

Replacements: 16 Rob Elloway, 17 Eddie Aholelei, 18 Jack Gilding, 19 Matt Corker, 20 Chris Hala’ufia, 21 Alex Davies, 22 Will Robinson, 23 Tom May.

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