Exeter Chiefs v Wasps Premiership Preview

Exeter Chiefs host Wasps at Sandy Park

Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young has named a side with one change to face Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park in Round 21 of the Aviva Premiership this Sunday .

There is only one change to the starting XV from last weekend’s European Semi Final, with Joe Simpson starting in the number nine shirt in place of Dan Robson, who is ruled out through the concussion injury sustained against Saracens last Saturday.

On the bench, Tom Bristow, Will Rowlands and Craig Hampson all get their chance among the replacements.

Looking ahead to Sunday’s match, with just two games of the regular Aviva Premiership season remaining and a home Semi Final up for grabs, Dai Young said:

“We worked so hard to make it to the Champions Cup Semi Finals and we were obviously disappointed for our European journey to end last week. That was the first experience of knock-out rugby at that level for a lot of these players. As this week has gone on, the players have reacted really well, focusing on the task in hand and putting all their energy into the Premiership fixture this weekend.

“Exeter Chiefs will have the benefit of having had a week off and I’m sure they will have a bit of a sting in their tail from losing to us in the European Quarter Final. They have been in pole position for second place in the league for most of the season and they will be determined to get themselves a home Semi Final.

“We have never won at Sandy Park so we know how difficult it will be. Both sides want to play rugby and, in front of a sell-out crowd, it should be a great occasion.

“Our supporters have been brilliant this season and to bring an Aviva Premiership Semi Final to the Ricoh Arena would be a good way for us to give something back to them. It’s a big challenge in front of us to be able to achieve that, but one we are all looking forward to.”

Exeter Chiefs have already secured a semi-final spot for the first time just six seasons after they were promoted into England’s top flight.

The Chiefs last seven matches in Aviva Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side whilst the Devonians only defeat at Sandy Park since January 2015 came when Saracens were the visitors in February 2016.

Wasps have already secured a semi-final berth for the first time since they won the Premiership title in 2007/08. A bonus point victory against Exeter would ensure that the semi-final is played at home.

Wasps solitary defat in the last 12 rounds of Aviva Premiership Rugby was 10-13 at Gloucester on 5th March.

The two sides have already met twice this season, both at the Ricoh Arena with Chiefs winning in Premiership Rugby in December and Wasps in the quarter-final of the Champions Cup in April.

Wasps have been defeated in all six previous visits to Sandy Park in all tournaments whilst their only win on Exeter soil in competitive rugby was at the County Ground in the quarter-final of the Pilkington Cup in February 1995.

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has made two changes to his starting line-up from that which lost to Gloucester last time out.

Up front, Dave Ewers is recalled at blindside flank, so Don Armand switches to No.8 and leading try-scorer Thomas Waldrom drops down to the bench. In the back division, fit-again Phil Dollman is given the nod at full-back in place of Australian international Lachie Turner.

On the bench, centre Sam Hill also returns to the fray having sat out the last few games with minor knocks.

“We have only really got two goals left, one of which is trying to get a home semi-final in the play-offs, the other is winning the Premiership.

“And as I’ve said to the guys this week, I think now we should make sure the way we train, together with the way we play, should show that is what we are going after.”

Match : Exeter Chiefs v Wasps
Date : Sunday 1 May
Venue : Sandy Park,
Kick Off : 1pm
Live on: BT Sport
Match Officials
Referee : Matthew Carly (44th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix & Ashley Rowden.
TMO: Graham Hughes.

Teams

Exeter

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

Replacements : 16 Jack Yeandle , 17 Alec Hepburn , 18 Carl Rimmer , 19 Damian Welch , 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. Joe Simpson, 1. Matt Mullan , 2. Carlo Festuccia , 3. Lorenzo Cittadini , 4. Joe Launchbury , 5. Bradley Davies , 6. James Haskell (c) , 7. George Smith , 8. Nathan Hughes

Replacements :16. Ashley Johnson , 17. Tom Bristow , 18. Phil Swainston , 19. Will Rowlands , 20. Thomas Young , 21. Craig Hampson , 22. Ruaridh Jackson , 23. Rob Miller

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