Anyone who was expecting Allianz Park fireworks this Sunday between some of the biggest names of the Gallagher Premiership had better think again as leaders Exeter and relegated Saracens have wrapped up their stars with a view to the following weekend’s Champions Cup quarter-final assignments. 

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European champions Saracens are due in Dublin on September 19 looking to defeat Leinster, the side they beat in the 2019 final, while Exeter will host English league rivals Northampton in their quarter-final the following day at Sandy Park.    

With the emphasis on those knockout cup fixtures, there will be no repeat of the fizz that was the 2019 Gallagher Premiership final won by Saracens at Twickenham nor any of the must-watch action from last December when Chiefs beat the Londoners in a top-notch league encounter in Devon.

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Instead, Sunday’s renewal between the clubs will be all about the understudies. Janco Venter, a summer signing from Jersey, will make his first Saracens start after two appearances off the bench. 

He features in the back row alongside Sean Reffell and captain Calum Clark while centre Harry Sloan comes in for his maiden opportunity in a starting jersey, joining Dom Morris in the midfield. On the bench, senior academy back Josh Hallett could make his senior debut for a club looking to bounce back after Wednesday’s loss to Sale.

Having seen his side guarantee a fifth successive play-off place, Rob Baxter’s Chiefs need just a solitary point to ensure they will have home advantage in the semi-finals and they will try to secure it with a completely different starting XV from the midweek win over Gloucester.

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Don Armand skippers the side from No8 and will be joined in the pack by England U20 Alfie Petch, who is set to make his first-ever Premiership start. Behind them, Argentinian winger Facundo Cordero, centre Tom Wyatt and half-backs Joe Snow and Harvey Skinner, also get their maiden starts, teaming up in a back division which also includes the evergreen Phil Dollman at full-back.

On the bench, University of Exeter alumni Matt Johnson, Will Yarnell and Luke Mehson all get their first call-ups into a Premiership squad, as does Aussie playmaker Jack Walsh, prop James Kenny and back-row forward Aaron Hinkley.

SARACENS: 15. Will Hooley; 14. Rotimi Segun (32), 13. Dom Morris, 12. Harry Sloan, 11. Elliott Obatoyinbo; 10. Manu Vunipola, 9. Tom Whiteley; 1. Sam Crean, 2. Kapeli Pifeleti, 3. Alec Clarey, 4. Joel Kpoku, 5. Callum Hunter-Hill, 6. Calum Clark, 7. Sean Reffell, 8. Janco Venter. Reps: 16. Tom Woolstencroft, 17. Robin Hislop, 18. Josh Ibuanokpe, 19. Cameron Boon, 20. Andy Christie, 21. Alex Day, 22. Juan Pablo Socino, 23. Josh Hallett.

EXETER: 15. Phil Dollman; 14. Josh Hodge, 13. Corey Baldwin, 12. Tom Wyatt, 11. Facundo Cordero; 10. Harvey Skinner, 9. Joe Snow; 1. Billy Keast, 2. Jack Innard, 3. Alfie Petch, 4. Will Witty, 5. Tom Price, 6. Sean Lonsdale, 7. Richard Capstick, 8. Don Armand (capt). Reps: 16. Jordon Poole, 17. James Kenny, 18. Matt Johnson, 19. Dave Dennis, 20. Aaron Hinkley, 21. Will Yarnell, 22. Jack Walsh, 23. Luke Mehson.

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