Unbeaten Scots will provide big test for Chiefs

Exeter Chiefs will embark on their European Champions Cup campaign this Saturday when Glasgow Warriors are the visitors to Sandy Park, with a 7.45 pm kick-off.

It is the first of back-to-back European games for the Chiefs, with a trip to French Top 14 side Montpellier the following Sunday.

Exeter have made no secret of the fact that they are targeting Europe this season after lifting the Aviva Premiership crown last May, but they will need to be at, or very close to, their best if they are to progress from a group that also includes Irish giants Leinster.

It is nice to be starting their assault on European glory at home, but it will be far from easy against a Glasgow side who have made an excellent start to the season, winning their opening six games to sit on top of the Guinness Pro14 Conference A table, eight points clear of next-best Munster. They are fresh from a 29-26 victory at South African side Toyota Cheetahs on Friday night.

They have also won 18-12 at Connacht and 20-19 at Cardiff Blues this season, while hammering Ospreys 31-10 at the Scotstoun Stadium.

The most stunning of Glasgow’s recent successes, though, arguably came with a 37-10 home victory over Munster on September 22, when they produced an excellent attacking display to claim a bonus-point win.

They are coached by New Zealander Dave Rennie, who took over as head coach from Gregor Townsend for the 2017-18 season after the latter moved on to become head coach of the Scotland national side.

The Warriors boosted their squad during the summer by bringing in six players from Super Rugby.

Versatile Scotland-born back Huw Jones, South African prop Oli Kebble and fly-half Brandon Thomson arrived from the Stormers, Kiwi winger Lelia Masaga came from the Chiefs, Tongan prop Siosiua Halanukonuka from the Highlanders and New Zealand flanker Callum Gibbons from the Hurricanes.

They also snapped up Scotland international fly-half Ruaridh Jackson from Harlequins, and one player who will be familiar to Exeter fans, even though he did not play a first-team game for them last season, and that is Fijian fly-half Niko Matawalu.

He has rejoined the Warriors, where he spent three years of his career before moving Bath in 2015, and then to Exeter part of the way through last season, signing a one-year deal with Glasgow, with the option of a further 12 months.

Glasgow’s squad also includes a host of Scotland internationals, such as Jonny Gray, Tim Swinson, Fraser Brown, Finn Russell, Tommy Seymour, Henry Pyrgos, Peter Horne and Ryan Wilson.

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.