Chiefs aiming to end Premiership season on high with Harlequins redemption


Exeter Chiefs will be hoping to prevent Harlequins from taking three-in-a-row against them in this weekend’s final-round showdown.

The race for top spot is set to be decided between Leicester Tigers and Saracens this weekend as the rest of the field fight to finish in the best possible position, with some still holding the chance to reach the top four and a berth in the play-offs.

It’s all to play for in the mid-pack, with each team from fourth to sixth still in with a chance of making the play-offs.

After many of their players were called up to international matches, Chiefs currently stand seventh after 23 matches following a string of defeats against Saracens and Bristol Bears.

They now face the possibility of their worst finish since the 2013/14 season, where they took eighth. Since then, following fifth a year later, the team has failed to leave the top two since 2016. Their fate of missing out on the top four was sealed after their defeat at Bristol was backed up by Northampton picking up two bonus points against the Saracens.

Speaking about the upcoming match, Chiefs boss Rob Baxter said that his team need to leave behind their recent success.

He said:

“We’re expecting them to come out flying at us. They are a squad in a semi-final next week, who’ve not played for a while, so we’re bracing ourselves for what is coming.

“For us, it’s a great opportunity to go out there and show what we’re about. We’ve done a fair bit of talking these last few weeks during some of our reviews and now it’s time to see who will ‘walk the walk’.

“In reviews there is always a lot of talk, now we’ve got to find who in the group will walk the walk. As I said, we’ve talked a lot recently about where we want to go and what we will need to do to achieve success next season.

“I’ve said to the players that we do need to leave behind the success of recent years as it’s not relevant for a lot of them. That said, we do have to use that recent success as markers moving forward.”

Despite this, the team still have a shot at the top-five as fifth-placed Gloucester only hold a four-point advantage, meaning Exeter could find themselves ahead by one point if they take maximum points while Gloucester fail to get anything from their game against the Saracens.

As the sun sets on the season, and with time running out, their latest challenge awaits them in the form of third-placed Harlequins, who head to Sandy Park on a high on the verge of losing their status as reigning champi0ns.

In their last two meetings, Harlequins have emerged victorious against Chiefs, winning last time out in January by a narrow two-point margin, ending the match 14-12.

Unlike Exeter, Harlequins have a lot less to lose, with it now being impossible for the team to slide up or down the order after securing third with a 28-24 victory over the team that Exeter now seek to beat to fourth.

Team News:


The big news of the weekend for Chiefs is the return of England’s Jack Nowell, who once again takes his place to the back division. Joining him will be Harvey Skinner and Stu Townsend.

The traditional front-row remains unchanged with Captain Jack Yeandle, Alec Hepburn and Harry Williams taking their usual spots ahead while Dafydd Jenkins now finds himself on the second row.

As well as this, its a big day on Saturday for both Sam Skinner and Iestyn Harris finding themselves on the replacements for both the final and first time respectively.

Starting lineup:

15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Jack Nowell, 13. Ian Whitten, 12. Harvey Skinner, 11. Olly Woodburn, 10. Joe Simmonds, 9. Stu Townsend, 1. Alec Hepburn, 2. Jack Yeandle (capt), 3. Harry Williams, 4. Jonny Gray, 5. Dafydd Jenkins, 6. Dave Ewers, 7. Jacques Vermeulen, 8. Richard Capstick.


16. Iestyn Harris, 17. James Kenny, 18. Marcus Street, 19. Sam Skinner, 20. Santiago Grondona, 21. Sam Maunder, 22. Sean O’Brien, 23. Facundo Cordero


A number of players will return from injuries to the Starting 15 for the London-based team in their battle against Exeter, with Tyrone Green, Aaron Morris and Will Evans all finding themselves on the pitch after being absent.

Stephan Lewies returns as the skipper for the Quins in their final Premiership game before the semi-finals, with hopes that he can lead his team to end their season on a high.

James Chrisholm and Luke Northmore also return from injury against Chiefs, named as two of the eight Impact Players, while Joey Gray joins them in a fresh-faced Harlequins team.

Starting line-up:

15. Tyrone Green, 14. Louis Lynagh, 13. Joe Marchant, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Aaron Morris, 10. Marcus Smith, 9. Danny Care; 1. Joe Marler, 2. Jack Walker, 3. Will Collier, 4. Matt Symons, 5. Hugh Tizard, 6. Stephan Lewies (capt), 7. Will Evans, 8. Alex Dombrandt.


16. Joe Gray, 17. Jordan Els, 18. Wilco Louw, 19. George Hammond, 20. James Chisholm, 21. Lewis Gjaltema, 22. Tommy Allan, 23. Luke Northmore

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