Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks Premiership Preview

Exeter Chiefs host Sale Sharks at Sandy Park

Exeter Chiefs have named Gareth Steenson to make his 100th appearance for the club in this weekend’s Aviva Premiership match at Sandy Park against Sale Sharks.

Rob Baxter insists his Exeter Chiefs cannot wait to get back into Aviva Premiership action following two weeks of battle in the European Champions Cup.

“We’re really looking forward to getting back into the Premiership, particularly with it being back here at home,” said Baxter. “Importantly, the lads have played fantastically well at home for quite a long time and we have worked extremely hard to make it a very hard place for opposition teams to come.

“It’s a place where we can thrive and is our aim is always to play well here.”

“The guys have trained well this week, they are saying and doing the right things, and their body language and the way they are carrying themselves, it all says they know they are going to be up for a fight on Boxing Day. As always we will have to match Sale physically because that is what they pride themselves on, but if we can do that, then we can start to talk about who will win the battle.”

Team news for the Chiefs sees the starting XV boosted by the return of Ben Moon and Mitch Lees to the pack, while behind Will Chudley and Sam Hill are also back having missed out last time out. One disappointment, however, is the loss of Damian Welch to an injured pec.

Saturday’s game will also see fly-half Gareth Steenson run out for his 100th Premiership appearance for the club.

Exeter Chiefs play in their first ever Boxing Day clash in Aviva Premiership Rugby, having lost just one of their last eight encounters in the competition: 17-19 at Bath in round 1 this season.

Exeter’s only defeat at Sandy Park in any competition since September 2014 was by a single point in 51 against Gloucester on 3rd January 2015.

Sale Sharks’ only loss in their last five matches in all tournaments was 19-23 at Gloucester in round 6 of Aviva Premiership Rugby. The Sharks won their most recent away game at Castres on 12th December but have not been victorious on the road in Premiership Rugby since beating London Welsh in February.

Each side won its respective home game when the two clubs met in Aviva Premiership Rugby last season, whilst the Sharks only previous win at Sandy Park was 55-12 (the Chiefs biggest reversal at the venue) in April 2014.

This will be the furthest Sharks have ever travelled for an away game at Christmas, but the team are in buoyant mood after back to wins over Castres in the European Challenge Cup.

Sharks know all too well what a fortress Sandy Park is having only won once there. The Chiefs have only lost once at home in 2015 and that dates back to a single point defeat to Gloucester in January.

Steve Diamond has named his side, and captain Dan Braid returns to the side, along with Sam Tuitupou, Josh Beaumont, Danny Cipriani and TJ Ioane.

Match : Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks
Date : Saturday 26 December
Kick Off : 3pm
Venue : Sandy Park,
Match Officials
Referee : Dean Richards (83rd Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce & Andrew Pearce.
TMO: Geoff Warren.


Exeter Chiefs

15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Sam Hill, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Will Chudley, 1 Ben Moon, 2 Jack Yeandle (capt), 3 Tomas Francis, 4 Mitch Lees, 5 Geoff Parling, 6 Don Armand, 7 Julian Salvi, 8 Thomas Waldrom

Replacements : 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Moray Low, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Will Hooley, 23 Michele Campanaro,


15. Mike Haley, 14. Tom Arscott, 13. Sam James, 12. Sam Tuitupou, 11. Will Addison, 10. Danny Cipriani, 9. Peter Stringer, 1. Ross Harrison, 2. Tommy Taylor, 3. Vadim Cobilas, 4. Jonathan Mills, 5. Bryn Evans, 6. Dan Braid (capt.), 7. TJ Ioane, 8. Josh Beaumont

Replacements: 16. Cameron Neild, 17. Eifion Lewis-Roberts, 18. Brian Mujati, 19. Andrei Ostrikov, 20. Mark Easter, 21. Chris Cusiter, 22. Joe Ford, 23. Mark Jennings.

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