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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Friday, January 25th 2019

Preview: Bristol Bears vs Exeter Chiefs

Bristol Bears welcome Exeter Chiefs to Ashton Gate on Saturday afternoon, with qualification for the semi-finals of the Premiership Rugby Cup up for grabs. 

Pat Lam's side need to beat the Chiefs and hope other results go their way to reach the knockout stages, with the final round of fixtures seeing sides from different groups go head-to-head in derby clashes. 

Here's everything you need to know about Saturday's clash.


Team news

Bristol Bears: 15. Luke Daniels; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Piers O’Conor, 12. Tusi Pisi (co-capt), 11. Ryan Edwards; 10. Ian Madigan, 9. Harry Randall; 1. Jordan Lay, 2. Harry Thacker, 3. John Afoa (co-capt), 4. John Hawkins, 5. Aly Muldowney, 6. Chris Vui, 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Steven Luatua.

Replacements: 16. Tom Lindsay, 17. James Lay, 18. Lewis Thiede, 19. Nick Haining, 20. Jake Heenan, 21. Nic Stirzaker, 22. Callum Sheedy, 23. Will Hurrell. 

Exeter Chiefs: 15. Phil Dollman, 14. Alex Cuthbert, 13. Max Bodilly, 12. Tom Hendrickson, 11. Olly Woodburn, 10. Harvey Skinner, 9. Sam Maunder; 1. Moray Low, 2. Jack Innard, 3. Greg Holmes (capt), 4. Josh Caulfield, 5. Mitch Lees, 6. Dave Ewers, 7. Richard Capstick, 8. Tom Lawday.

Replacements: 16. Elvis Taione, 17. Billy Keast, 18. Marcus Street, 19. Ollie Atkins, 20. Wilhelm Van der Sluys, 21. Joe Snow, 22. Sam Morley, 23. James Short.


Last time out:

Exeter Chiefs 14-9 Bristol Bears - Sat, 5th Jan 2019, Sandy Park

Bristol Bears battled to a losing bonus-point against Gallagher Premiership leaders, Exeter Chiefs in a hard-fought West Country derby at Sandy Park.

Three penalties from the boot of Ian Madigan kept Pat Lam’s side in touch throughout a spirited 80-minute performance, with tries from Santiago Cordero and Sean Lonsdale proving decisive for the home side.

Madigan’s first penalty fired Bristol into an early lead, before Cordero’s try on the stroke of half-time sent Chiefs into the sheds with a four-point lead.

Two more three-pointers from the Irishman gave the visitors a 7-9 lead heading into the final quarter, but Lonsdale’s try 14 minutes from time sealed victory for Exeter.


Head-to-head:

Jordan Lay

Samoa international, Jordan Lay made the switch from Edinburgh Rugby ahead of the 2018/19 campaign.

The 25-year-old, formerly of New Zealand side Bay of Plenty Steamers, featured for Samoa in November’s Autumn Internationals and has five caps for his country, starting in a narrow 44-38 defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield.

Lay made his first Gallagher Premiership start against Saracens in September, as Bristol were beaten by the reigning champions.

A product of Auckland's renowned King's College, Lay was handed his Samoan debut against Tonga in July 2018.

Greg Holmes

The experienced Australian international moved to Sandy Park during the summer of 2016, having spent all of his playing career to that stage with Super Rugby outfit, Queensland Reds.

A proven force at tight-head, both for club and international level, Holmes won the first of his 27 caps for the Wallabies against France in Marseille in November 2005 - and he went on to feature in the 2015 Rugby World Cup alongside former Chiefs skipper Dean Mumm.

Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter clearly liked what he saw in Holmes, who has since gone on to make a half century of appearances for the Devon club.


Luke Daniels

Luke Daniels made the switch to Bristol Bears ahead of the club's return to the top flight of the English game.

The former Ealing Trailfinders back started the opening Gallagher Premiership game of the season against Bath at Ashton Gate, before a hamstring injury saw him miss more than eight weeks.

But fit and firing again, Daniels was a second-half replacement as Bristol battled to a historic win at La Rochelle in the Challenge Cup, before starting back-to-back games against Enisei-STM in the same competition.

Olly Woodburn

Olly Woodburn has been a revelation in the colours of Exeter Chiefs following his move from local rivals Bath at the start of the 2015/16 season.

Having joined Bath’s Academy in 2010 having been schooled at Colston’s in Bristol, he made his senior debut for the club a year later in the LV= Cup, scoring within two minutes against the Newport-Gwent Dragons.

Woodburn remained in place at the Recreation Ground for the next four years, featuring for the first team in not only the Premiership and LV= Cup, but also European competitions.


Word from the camps:

Pat Lam

"We’re really looking forward to welcoming Exeter to Ashton Gate," he said.

"They are the benchmark – themselves and Saracens – they’ve got good clarity in their team and good squad depth. So, whoever plays, it’s always tough, as we’ve found out already.

"We’ve had two good games so far this season where we’ve had narrow losses, but I think at this stage of the season, to be play a team like that is perfect for us."

Ricky Pellow

"Any player will tell you these are the games they want to play in.

"We go to Bristol this weekend knowing not only is it a local derby, but it's a game with a huge amount on it for both sides. And, if we can win, it will put us into another semi-final.

"And just looking at the guys training this week, you can see they are hungry and excited about the weekend and that they really want to get out there and attack the game."


Form guide:

Bristol Bears head into Saturday's West Country derby off the back of a thumping 107-19 victory over Enisei-STM at Ashton Gate.

The 17-try win saw Bristol qualify for the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup, setting up a last-eight clash with La Rochelle at Stade Marcel-Deflandre.

Exeter Chiefs fell inches short of reaching the Champions Cup quarter-finals when they were edged out 9-8 by Munster at Thomond Park.

Rob Baxter's side sit top of the Gallagher Premiership, and know a win on Saturday would see them reach the last four of the Premiership Rugby Cup.

For Bristol, the minimum requirement is a home win, with an added reliance on other results to go their way if they are to reach the knockout stages.

Bristol Bears: LWW
Exeter Chiefs: WWL


Weather forecast

Met Office says: 

Saturday will start cloudy with drizzle at times. During the afternoon, heavier rain and strong winds will move in from the west, bringing gales to coasts and hills overnight.

Maximum temperature 10 °C.


How to buy tickets:

Adult tickets start from £10 and U12s from just £1 for the South-West clash as Pat Lam's men bid to progress through to the knockout stages of the competition.

The popular fan village will be in full swing, with local food and drink outlets, as well as live music and entertainment.

Tickets are available to members to purchase online now by clicking here, or via supporter services on 0117 963 0600.


Matchday sponsor:


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