Exeter and Bristol have ramped things up ahead of Saturday’s top of the table Gallagher Premiership clash at Sandy Park, both teams making numerous changes to their respective XVs and recalling a raft of England players.
Defending champions Chiefs lost their first match of the campaign when beaten last Saturday at Wasps and coach Rob Baxter has reacted by changing up his selection.
England internationals Luke Cowan-Dickie, Harry Williams and Jonny Hill are recalled to the pack while another of Eddie Jones’ men returns in the backs in the shape of Henry Slade at outside centre. Another change in personnel sees Aussie Jack Walsh handed his first-ever Premiership start at full-back.
Bristol defeated Newcastle on New Year’s Day to join Exeter at the top of the table on 20 points each and they have now made six changes for the trip to the Chiefs. England back row Ben Earl returns to the starting line-up.
Director of rugby Pat Lam also welcomes back his front rowers after their period of self-isolation. Jake Woolmore and Bryan Byrne come into the side, while Kyle Sinckler also starts. Luke Morahan is named in the backline for his first start of the campaign and Harry Randall also returns at scrum-half.
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EXETER: 15. Jack Walsh; 14. Olly Woodburn, 13. Henry Slade, 12. Ollie Devoto, 11. Ian Whitten; 10. Joe Simmonds, 9. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; 1. Alec Hepburn, 2. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3. Harry Williams, 4. Will Witty, 5. Jonny Hill, 6. Dave Ewers, 7. Don Armand, 8. Sam Simmonds. Reps: 16. Jack Yeandle, 17. James Kenny, 18. Tomas Francis, 19. Tom Price, 20. Sam Skinner, 21. Sam Maunder, 22. Corey Baldwin, 23. James Short.
BRISTOL: 15. Charles Piutau; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Semi Radradra, 12. Piers O’Conor, 11. Siva Naulago; 10. Callum Sheedy, 9. Harry Randall; 1. Jake Woolmore, 2. Bryan Byrne, 3. Kyle Sinckler, 4. Dave Attwood, 5. Joe Joyce, 6. Steven Luatua, 7. Ben Earl, 8. Nathan Hughes. Reps: 16. Will Capon, 17. Yann Thomas, 18. John Afoa, 19. James Dun, 20. Dan Thomas, 21. Andy Uren, 22. Ioan Lloyd, 23. Alapati Leiua.
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