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Exeter bench Lions pick Stuart Hogg for semi-final rematch versus Sale

By Liam Heagney

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Rob Baxter has dropped Lions pick Stuart Hogg to the bench for Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership semi-final, the full-back’s demotion one of three changes to the Exeter XV that will take on Sale who have made four changes to their XV following last weekend’s dramatic contest between the teams.

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Despite losing Sam Skinner to a red card, Exeter were able to turn a 3-19 losing margin into a 20-19 win to secure home advantage for the semi-finals. However, having since lost Skinner and his fellow forward Dave Ewers to four-game games, Baxter has reshuffled his line-up and the changes surprisingly extend to full-back.

Scotland skipper Hogg has been touted as the starting Lions No15 for next month’s Test series versus the Springboks but he has to settle for a place on the Exeter bench this weekend after Baxter opted to start with fit-again England winger Jack Nowell at full-back.

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Unless Hogg is privately nursing some sort of niggle it is an eye-catching selection decision five weeks out from the Lions’ first Test in South Africa. Elsewhere, Baxter has chosen Jonny Gray and Richard Capstick to take over from suspended forwards Skinner and Ewers.

For Sale, Curtin Langdon, Ben Curry and Rob du Preez are chosen for Akker van der Merwe, Cameron Nield and AJ MacGinty, who all left the Sandy Park field injured last weekend. The fourth starting XV switch is Marland Yarde for Arron Reed on the wing.

EXETER: 15. Jack Nowell; 14. Alex Cuthbert, 13. Henry Slade, 12. Ollie Devoto, 11. Tom O’Flaherty; 10. Joe Simmonds (capt), 9. Jack Maunder; 1. Alec Hepburn, 2. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3. Harry Williams, 4. Jonny Gray, 5. Jonny Hill, 6. Jannes Kirsten, 7. Richard Capstick, 8. Sam Simmonds. Reps: 16. Jack Yeandle, 17. Ben Moon, 18. Marcus Street, 19. Sean Lonsdale, 20. Don Armand, 21. Stu Townsend, 22. Harvey Skinner, 23. Stuart Hogg.

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SALE: 15. Simon Hammersley; 14. Byron McGuigan, 13. Sam James, 12. Manu Tuilagi, 11. Marland Yarde; 10. Rob du Preez, 9. Faf de Klerk; 1. Ross Harrison, 2. Curtis Langdon, 3. Coenie Oosthuizen, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Jean-Luc du Preez, 6. Tom Curry (capt), 7. Ben Curry 8. Daniel du Preez. Reps: 16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Valery Morozov, 18. Will-Griff John, 19. James Phillips, 20. Jono Ross, 21. Raffi Quirke, 22. Kieran Wilkinson, 23. Rohan Janse van Rensburg.

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Exeter bench Lions pick Stuart Hogg for semi-final rematch versus Sale

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