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Four of Exeter's five Lions on show as strong side named for Worcester

By PA

Trending on RugbyPass

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Exeter will parade four of their five British and Irish Lions when they host the Gallagher Premiership’s basement club Worcester on Saturday.

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Hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie, number eight Sam Simmonds and full-back Stuart Hogg are present in the starting XV after being named in Warren Gatland’s squad for South Africa.

Only Jonny Hill of the quartet selected by Gatland on Thursday is missing with the England lock suffering from a minor injury.

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Jim, Andy, Shanks and Fez react to the Lions:

Jack Nowell, a tourist in 2017 who misses out this time having just returned from toe and hamstring problems, starts on the right wing.

Since being knocked out of the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup by Leinster, Exeter have stitched together impressive wins over last season’s runners-up Wasps and leaders Bristol.

But director of rugby Rob Baxter views a Worcester team that have lost seven successive Premiership matches as a banana skin.

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“The boys have responded very well. At this stage, all you can ask from them is that they show real fight,” Baxter said.

“There is no point getting down the line and thinking we’re ready for a big game, we need to show it now.

“Obviously, we proved that point in the last two performances, but in a strange way the bigger challenge comes this weekend.

“It’s easy for us to get ourselves up and ready to go to the leaders, who are eight games unbeaten, because you know you have to be bang on.

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“Worcester, on the other hand, are at the opposite end of the table. Results-wise they may not be getting what they want from games but for as long as I can remember, we haven’t had a game against them where we haven’t felt uncomfortable for the whole 80 minutes.”

Bristol are looking to bounce back from their 20-12 home defeat by Exeter when they meet another West Country rival Bath at the Recreation Ground.

The Bears are lifted by the return of centre Semi Radradra and fly-half Callum Sheedy from injury, while Ben Earl and Nathan Hughes are restored to the back row.

Bath name Rhys Priestland on the bench following his recovery from a hamstring injury, but England internationals Zach Mercer, Sam Underhill, Charlie Ewels, Jonathan Joseph and Joe Cokanasiga are removed from their starting XV.

Newcastle host London Irish with their sights set on ending 2020-21 in the way they began it – with a flourish. Since their early promise they have slumped to 11th in the table.

“We had a great start to the season but we’ve been hampered by things like Covid and injuries, and we just want to end on a high,” director of rugby Dean Richards said.

“We’ve taken the opportunity to blood some of our youngsters, which will be good in the long run, and we’re going to use these last five games in a really positive way.”

Saturday’s final fixture sees Northampton look to stay in touch with the top four when they host Gloucester.

EXETER CHIEFS: 

15 Stuart Hogg
14 Jack Nowell
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 Tomas Francis
4 Jonny Gray
5 Sam Skinner
6 Dave Ewers
7 Jacques Vermeulen
8 Sam Simmonds

16 Jack Yeandle
17 Ben Moon
18 Harry Williams
19 Sean Lonsdale
20 Richard Capstick
21 Stu Townsend
22 Harvey Skinner
23 Ian Whitten

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Four of Exeter's five Lions on show as strong side named for Worcester

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