KVESIC HANDED CHIEFS START IN TOP-OF-THE-TABLE CLASH


MATT KVESIC comes into the Exeter Chiefs side for their top-of-the-table Premiership clash with Saracens at Sandy Park on Saturday.

Kvesic for Tom Lawday is the only change Exeter make to their starting line-up, but the Chiefs are able to name fit-again hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie and scrum-half Nic White, who was forced to miss last week’s game with a foot issue, on the bench.

Table-topping Saracens arrive in Devon not only looking to preserve their current two-point lead at the summit, but a 22-game unbeaten run that stretches back to their quarter-final defeat at the hands of Leinster in April.

Since then, Mark McCall’s side have yet to taste defeat, producing an impressive sequence of results that has yielded great rewards, including lifting the Premiership title for the fourth time in May against this weekend’s hosts, Exeter Chiefs.

Undone by the Londoners for the second time in three years in the end of season showpiece at Twickenham, it was a bitter pill to swallow for Rob Baxter and his team, who had ended last season’s regular season top of the pile for the first time, some eight points clear of next-best Saracens.

With both sides fresh from success in last weekend’s fourth round of Champions Cup action in Europe, Chiefs head coach Ali Hepher believes the stage is set for epic festive tussle.

“Saturday will be 100 per cent from both sides,” he said. “Both of us will be going full bore at it. It will be very physical and very tactical, but it’s something we are all excited about. For us, it will be a good marker to see where we are at in terms of our performance levels, our general work ethic and how we react in those big-game moments.”

EXETER CHIEFS TEAM

15 Joe Simmonds

14 Santiago Cordero

13 Ian Whitten

12 Sam Hill

11 Tom O’Flaherty

10 Gareth Steenson

9 Jack Maunder

1 Alec Hepburn

2 Jack Yeandle (capt)

3 Tomas Francis

4 Dave Dennis

5 Sam Skinner

6 Sean Lonsdale

7 Don Armand

8 Matt Kvesic

REPLACEMENTS

16 Luke Cowan-Dickie

17 Ben Moon

18 Harry Williams

19 Mitch Lees

20 Tom Lawday

21 Nic White

22 Ollie Devoto

23 Phil Dollman

FULL REPORT, REACTION AND PICTURES IN SUNDAY’S PAPER

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