Sandy Park set for festive cracker as Exeter take on Leicester


Exeter Chiefs welcome Leicester Tigers to a sold out Sandy Park this weekend as both teams aim for a spot in the top four.

The festive season has already brought the teams gifts, as they both have a 100% record in the Champions Cup; but they will be looking to kick-start their Premiership campaign this weekend.

The strange nature of the Premiership this season means every point is crucial, and both teams will see this as an opportunity to claim five points and rise up the table. The sides come into the match separated by just three points, but a win for either side could propel them into the top four for Christmas.

The Chiefs will be pumped up to defend their fortress. Sandy Park has regained the aura it once had; and Exeter are unbeaten in their last 23 matches at home.

Rob Baxter’s men have won four of their last five matches in all competitions, including the late heroics so will be full of confidence ahead of the game.

Exeter have come out all guns blazing for their festive celebration, with the red hot Henry Slade the focal point of the side.

He will rekindle his centre partnership with Ollie Devoto, who returns to the starting line-up. They form a formidable looking backline alongside Tommy Wyatt, Ben Hammersley Rory O’Loughlin, Harvey Skinner and Tom Cairns.

The pack will also be vital for the Chiefs if they want to secure the five points; and Rob Baxter has turned to the weaponised front-row of Ehren Painter, Scott Sio and Jack Yeandle. Dafydd Jenkins again skippers the side from second-row alongside Lewis Pearson, and Ethan Roots returns to the side. Jacques Vermulan and Greg Fisilau complete the starting unit.

They also have a loaded bench, including Dan Frost, Rusi Tuima and Stu Townsend.

However, Leicester will be relishing the opportunity to spoil the Sandy Park Christmas party.

Leicester started the season slowly under new boss Dan McKeller, but they are now basking in a glorious run of form. The Tigers are unbeaten since early November, and in that time have romped to victories over the likes of Northampton Saints, the Stormers and most recently Stade Francais. Will they be the ones to end Exeter’s unbeaten run at home?

Dan McKeller has met fire with fire for their trip to the South West, as he names a very strong team. The back-line is loaded with international talent, with Ben Youngs, Handre Pollard, Anthony Watson and Freddie Steward all included. Former Chiefs man Solomone Kata combines with Dan Kelly in a heavy duty midfield, and Josh Bassett completes the back division.

The pack also includes plenty of quality, as Julian Montoya, Dan Cole, Ollie Chessum and Jasper Wiese all make the side. George Martin, Harry Wells and James Whitcombe are also named in the squad.

Joe Heyes and Mike Brown will be hoping to add plenty to the latter stages of the game as they are included on the bench.

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