Sale Sharks v Exeter Chiefs preview

Sale Sharks have won two of their last four matches in all competitions. The Sharks have won their last two games at Edgeley Park against Leeds and Gloucester.


Exeter Chiefs have lost their last four encounters, and have won just once away from home since October: 23-13 at Newcastle on 18 February.


The two clubs only previous competitive meeting was in round nine at Sandy Park where the home side won 24-19.


Ignacio Mieres says he is “excited” about the prospect of making his first-ever Aviva Premiership start for Exeter Chiefs at Edgeley Park.


A regular fixture on the Chiefs bench in recent weeks, the Argentine ace has now been promoted from the sidelines by Rob Baxter as one of three changes the head coach has made to his line-up from that which went down at home to high-flying Saracens last weekend.


With the Chiefs keen to end a run of four successive Premiership defeats, Mieres will form a new half-back partnership with the returning Haydn Thomas, whilst Welshman Phil Dollman returns to the Exeter midfield.


Making way for the trio are Gareth Steenson, Junior Poluleuligaga and Jason Shoemark, the latter of whom has been unable to train this week due to illness.


For Mieres, though, his patient wait has finally paid dividends and he is now ready to assume the role of Exeter’s chief playmaker in this the club’s penultimate league fixture of the season.


“I am excited about starting the match,” he said. “It’s going to be my second start since I came here and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m here to play. I’ve trained hard and done everything I can to get in the first team – and having the chance to play ten or 15 minutes recently has been good. ,


“I have tried to make the most of it and that has given me a lot of confidence that the coaches have picked me to start a game.” ,


Mieres’ only other starting role for the Chiefs came back in early November when he produced a man-of-the-match display in his side’s 29-9 LV= Cup victory over London Wasps at Sandy Park.


The opportunity of starting, as well as the chance to impress the coaching staff sufficiently enough to earn himself a possible contract for next season, is something Mieres is clearly keen to make the most of. ,


“I’d like to stay next season,” he said.


“I have not signed anything with any clubs. This is a great club, I like their philosophy, the way they train, the way they think and the way the guys are. I think I have improved my rugby, it has added a lot to my game coming to play for Exeter. It’s been a really good experience and I’ve really enjoyed my time here.”


And one man who will be keeping a close eye on Mieres in Stockport is Ali Hepher, the club’s assistant coach. Like the fly-half, Hepher is relishing seeing what Mieres will bring to the party against a Sharks side, who lost the corresponding fixture at Sandy Park back in November 24-19. , “It’s not only a big opportunity for Nacho, but for all the guys,” said Hepher.


“Nacho has been going well in training, in the A league, and when he has come off the bench. We are fully aware of his ability and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do.”


After recent setbacks against London Irish, Leeds Carnegie, Bath and Saracens, Hepher is hopeful that the club’s final two games of the campaign will see an upturn in fortunes and give the Chiefs something to take into their summer break. , Despite the losses of the past month, Hepher insists there has been no major post mortem into the way the side have performed.


He said: “We’ve reset ourselves a little bit, but equally we’ve pointed out to the guys just how good we have been this season and that we have played some fantastic rugby at times.


“We know the areas we need to fix, which we will do, but we also feel if we get certain areas right that we can create some real problems for the opposition. As a club we

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