Exeter Chiefs v Wasps Premiership Preview

Exeter Chiefs host Wasps at Sandy Park

Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young has named his team to play Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park in the Aviva Premiership Semi Final on Saturday.

It will be the club’s first Premiership Semi Final for eight years and the squad will look to draw on their experience from the European Semi Final a month ago, when they lost out to now European Champions, Saracens.

There are only two changes to the squad fielded by Wasps in that European Semi Final with Jake Cooper-Woolley returning from injury to take his place in the front row, alongside Carlo Festuccia and Matt Mullan.

The only other change comes on the bench, where Will Rowlands provides back up for the second row. Sam Jones is again back row replacement, while Thomas Young misses out through hamstring and shoulder injuries.

Ahead of the knock out match, Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “The boys have trained really well since having a few days off after the rigours of Europe. They have trained with real energy and excitement this week and we’re all looking forward to the Premiership Semi Final.

“We are hugely respectful of Exeter and everything they’ve achieved. We’ve already played three times this season, so both sides know each other pretty well. Exeter are 2-1 up so far, so we know how many threats they have and the challenge ahead of us at Sandy Park. ”

“We’re underdogs going into this away game, but we’re comfortable with that and know we can cause any team problems on our day. We will have to be at our very best if we are to get the result we want, but I’m confident in our squad’s ability.”

Exeter Chiefs become the eleventh different side to participate in an Aviva Premiership semi-final and Sandy Park becomes the eleventh different venue to such a fixture.

The Chiefs have won their last two matches, at home to Wasps in round 21 and inflicting a record home defeat on Harlequins a week later.

Exeter’s only home loss in any competition since January 2015 came when Saracens were the visitors in Premiership Rugby in February 2016.

Wasps have made it to the last four or the first time since they were champions in 2008.

Wasps only defeat in the last seven rounds of Aviva Premiership Rugby came when they visited Exeter on 1st May.

Wasps have participated in five previous Premiership semi-finals with their only defeat at this stage being at Sale in 2006.

The two sides have met three times this season, with Exeter taking both encounters in Premiership Rugby but Wasps knocking the Chiefs out of the Champions Cup at the quarter-final stage in Coventry on 9th April.

Wasps have visited Sandy Park on seven previous occasions in all competitions with the Chiefs victorious every time. Referee Greg Garner becomes the 12th official to take charge of 100 Premiership matches.

Although Exeter won their last match which was against Harlequins and scored ten tries Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has made changes to his winning formula.

Up front, Ben Moon and Luke Cowan-Dickie come into the front-row; Geoff Parling replaces the injured Damian Welch (knee) at lock; while Don Armand has recovered from an elbow injury and is preferred at No.8 to Thomas Waldrom.

In the back division, Ian Whitten is given the nod at centre ahead of Sam Hill, while Olly Woodburn is also recalled at the expense of James Short, who drops to the bench.

Personnel in place, Baxter is also hoping the capacity Exeter crowd will also be at full-strength for arguably one of the biggest fixtures in the club’s history.

“Our support this year has been fantastic,” added Baxter. “Everyone knows Sandy Park is one of the best atmospheres in the Premiership when it’s rocking, so it’s important the team play well to get that support going and really behind us.

“Our guys will need to show the crowd they are willing work hard, give everything, and get them involved in the game from minute one.”

And helping to ensure the Chiefs settle from the outset will be the likes of senior stars such as Parling, Waldrom, Woodburn and Julian Salvi, all of whom know what it takes to be emerge victorious from a play-off semi-final.

“They’ve all got important roles to play over the course of the week and they’ve been doing that over the course of the season.

“What I don’t want guys like Geoff and Julian to worry about is to think they’ve got to go out there and win the game on their own – what’s important for them is to understand their place in the jigsaw. That’s where we’ve been good over the last couple of weeks, the 15 on the pitch have understood their roles and executed them very well. ”

“You don’t go into a semi-final now and start to try and change things and overcompensate for things – what a good team does now is lock down and do their roles extremely well.”

The Bookies have given Wasps a 5 point start for this Match – with an offer of up to £200 in Bonus bets.

Match : Exeter Chiefs v Wasps
Date : Saturday 21 May
Venue : Sandy Park,
Kick Off : 3.15pm
Live on: BT Sport
Match Officials
Referee : Greg Garner (100th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Tom Foley & Ross Campbell.
TMO: Stuart Terheege.

Teams

Exeter Chiefs

15 Phil Dollman , 14 Jack Nowell , 13 Henry Slade , 12 Ian Whitten , 11 Olly Woodburn , 10 Gareth Steenson (capt) , 9 Will Chudley, 8 Don Armand , 7 Julian Salvi , 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Geoff Parling , 4 Mitch Lees , 3 Harry Williams , 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie ,1 Ben Moon

Replacements : 16 Jack Yeandle , 17 Alec Hepburn , 18 Tomas Francis , 19 Ollie Atkins , 20 Thomas Waldrom , 21 Dave Lewis , 22 Sam Hill , 23 James Short.

Wasps

15. Charles Piutau , 14. Christian Wade , 13. Elliot Daly , 12. Siale Piutau , 11. Frank Halai , 10. Jimmy Gopperth , 9. Dan Robson , 8. Nathan Hughes , 7. George Smith , 6. James Haskell (c), 5. Bradley Davies , 4. Joe Launchbury , 3. Jake Cooper-Woolley , 2. Carlo Festuccia, 1. Matt Mullan

Replacements : 16. Ashley Johnson , 17. Simon McIntyre , 18. Lorenzo Cittadini , 19. Will Rowlands , 20. Sam Jones , 21. Joe Simpson , 22. Ruaridh Jackson , 23. Rob Miller

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