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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Monday, August 24th 2020

Preview: Exeter Chiefs (h) - Gallagher Premiership

Bristol Bears welcome Exeter Chiefs to Ashton Gate for a top-of-the-table clash on Tuesday night, as they go in search of an eighth successive win in the Gallagher Premiership.

Pat Lam's men ran in five tries to storm to a bonus-point victory over Gloucester at Kingsholm in round 14, while the table-topping Chiefs recorded an impressive win on the road at Sale Sharks. 

Here everything you need to know ahead of Tuesday's Gallagher Premiership clash with Exeter Chiefs at Ashton Gate.


Match details

  • Date: Tuesday, August 25th
  • Kick-off: 7.45pm
  • Competition: Gallagher Premiership
  • Where: Ashton Gate
  • Referee: Wayne Barnes, Assistants: Craig Maxwell-Keys, Karl Dickson, TMO: Rowan Kitt, Citing Commissioner: Buster White
  • Media coverage: BT Sport 1 HD - find out more about Match Pass access here.

Team news

Piers O’Conor returns from a neck injury to start when Bristol welcome table-topping Exeter Chiefs to Ashton Gate on Tuesday (7.45pm KO).

Director of Rugby Pat Lam makes nine changes from the side that secured a seventh successive Premiership victory over Gloucester in round fifteen.

Charles Piutau and Luke Morahan are recalled to the backline, while Harry Randall is also included.

In the pack, Max Lahiff and Bryan Byrne are named in the front row, while Ed Holmes and Dave Attwood form the second row partnership. Dan Thomas is selected at openside.

Bristol Bears team to face Exeter Chiefs at Ashton Gate on Tuesday, August 25th (7.45pm KO):

15. Charles Piutau; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Semi Radradra, 12. Piers O’Conor, 11. Henry Purdy; 10. Callum Sheedy, 9. Harry Randall; 1. Max Lahiff, 2. Bryan Byrne, 3. Kyle Sinckler, 4. Ed Holmes, 5. Dave Attwood, 6. Steven Luatua (c), 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Nathan Hughes.

System players: 16. Harry Thacker, 17. Jake Woolmore, 18. John Afoa, 19. Joe Joyce, 20. Ben Earl, 21. Andy Uren, 22. Ioan Lloyd, 23. Alapati Leiua.

Unavailable: Jake Armstrong (ankle), Sam Bedlow (shoulder), Toby Fricker (groin).

Exeter Chiefs:

15. Josh Hodge, 14. Tom O’Flaherty, 13. Phil Dollman, 12. Tom Hendrickson, 11. Olly Woodburn, 10. Gareth Steenson, 9. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; 1. Alec Hepburn, 2. Jack Yeandle (c), 3. Tomas Francis, 4. Dave Dennis, 5. Sam Skinner, 6. Jannes Kirsten, 7. Don Armand, 8. Sean Lonsdale.

Replacements: 16. Jack Innard, 17. Billy Keast, 18. Marcus Street, 19. Will Witty, 20. Richard Capstick, 21. Joe Snow, 22. Harvey Skinner, 23. Tom Wyatt


Last time out

Exeter Chiefs 17-20 Bristol Bears | Saturday, November 10th 2019 | Sandy Park

Dan Thomas scored a dramatic winning try as Bristol Bears overturned a 17-point half-time deficit to record a first win at Sandy Park in more than ten years and go top of the Gallagher Premiership.

The replacement powered over from a driving lineout with the clock in the red, as Pat Lam’s men overturned the third-highest points tally in Gallagher Premiership history with the final play of the game in a thrilling West Country derby.

First-half tries from Sam Simmonds and Nic White had given Pat Lam's men a mountain to climb in the second period, but two Callum Sheedy penalties and a stunning try from Piers O’Conor clawed the Bears back within striking range as time ticked away.

With the clock in the red, Sheedy found the corner from a penalty on halfway, to provide the perfect platform from which to snatch the most dramatic of victories.

And the Bristol pack obliged, chewing up 20 metres before Thomas eventually touched down under a pile of bodies to complete the comeback and send Bristol top of the table going into the European break.

Read the full report here. 


Word from the camp

Pat Lam insists nothing less than a full team effort is required when the table-topping Exeter Chiefs arrive at Ashton Gate for round 16 of the Gallagher Premiership.

Subscribe to Bristol Bears TV by clicking here.


Form guide

Bristol Bears are unbeaten in their last nine first team games since Leicester beat them 31-18 at Welford Road in round eight of Gallagher Premiership Rugby.

The Bears have lost only once at Ashton Gate in any competition since March 2019: 21-26 to Wasps in round seven of Premiership Rugby.

Exeter Chiefs racked up a third successive maximum point victory at Sale on Friday, whilst their only defeat away from home in any tournament since October was 30-34 at Harlequins in Gallagher Premiership Rugby on 29 February.

Bristol beat Exeter 20-17 at Sandy Park in round four but have not achieved a league double over their south-west rivals since the two met in Premiership Two in season 1998-99.

Incredibly, Exeter have won on their last six visits to Bristol in all competitions, four at Ashton Gate and two at Memorial Stadium.

Bristol Bears: WWW
Exeter Chiefs: WWW 


Head-to-head

Dan Thomas vs Don Armand

The back row battle is an intriguing one, as the lively Dan Thomas goes head-to-head with the Chiefs powerhouse, Don Armand at Ashton Gate.

Callum Sheedy vs Gareth Steenson

At fly half, Bears ever-present number ten, Callum Sheedy takes on the experienced head of Gareth Steenson, as first and second in the Gallagher Premiership face off. 


Statto's corner

  • Joe Joyce will become first Bear to play 50 games at Ashton Gate
  • Bears on record seven-game winning streak in Gallagher Premiership
  • Callum Sheedy current leading points scorer in league with 139 
  • Four out of five meetings between the sides decided by five points or fewer


Match sponsor: TP Group Ltd


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