'Fire with fire' - Exeter Chiefs make one change as they name star-heavy line-up for London Irish
Exeter Chiefs have named a team littered with international talent as they take on London Irish at the Brentford Community Stadium. Rob Baxter’s Chiefs, who currently sit in third on the Gallagher Premiership table, are gunning for one of two home semi-final play-off spots.
With England and British Lions star Jack Nowell set for another spell on the sidelines after hobbling out of the Worcester game with MCL injury, Baxter’s sole change to his back division sees the Cornishman replaced by the returning Alex Cuthbert.
“I was really pleased with the Worcester performance, particularly that first half,” said Baxter. “I know some people will think that’ a bit funny, especially when we were losing at the break, but I think as a supporter you needed to be here to understand just how bad the conditions were. There were 40mph winds going down the pitch and that is what we were up again in that first half.
“That said, we had put in place a strict and rigid game plan of how we wanted to play, how we wanted to get out of our half and, ultimately, stop Worcester from playing. All in all, we did that very well. The one time Worcester capitalised on one of our errors was when they scored their try, but other than that we kept them at arms length, before managing to score some points of our own.
“You then saw in the second half, other than the odd break-out moment from them, that we pretty much controlled the game and did everything we needed to do. Our ability in that first half, especially when we under that scoreboard pressure, not to over do things was fantastic. Had we tried to force the ball in any way, we could easily have conceded two or three scores. Instead, we stayed patient, we worked hard for one another and, ultimately, that created the platform for us to win.”
“Right here and now, they are a difficult side to put a finger on,” added Baxter. “We’ve seen this season some very good, dogged performances from them, where they have really troubled sides. Equally, they’ve had some disappointing results recently as well.
Meanwhile London Irish have named a team that itself boast a decent amount of star power. Albert Tuisue is set to make his 50th appearance for London Irish, having scored 16 times in 49 appearances since joining the Exiles in January 2019.
Matt Rogerson captains the side from blindside flanker, and is joined in the back row by Ben Donnell and Albert Tuisue.
EXETER CHIEFS: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Tom O’Flaherty
10 Joe Simmonds (capt), 9 Jack Maunder, 1 Ben Moon, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3 Harry Williams, 4 Jannes Kirsten, 5 Sean Lonsdale, 6 Dave Ewers, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 8 Sam Simmonds
LONDON IRISH: 15 Tom Parton, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Phil Cokanasiga, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Nick Phipps, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 2 Agustin Creevy, 3 Lovejoy Chawatama, 4 Chunya Munga, 5 Rob Simmons, 6 Matt Rogerson (c), 7 Ben Donnell, 8 Albert Tuisue
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