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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Friday, January 4th 2019

Preview: Exeter Chiefs vs Bristol Bears

Bristol Bears kick off 2019 with a trip to Sandy Park to take on table-topping Exeter Chiefs in a West Country derby.

Rob Baxter's Chiefs are sitting pretty at the top of the Gallagher Premiership, but head into the game off the back of a second league defeat of the season at the hands of Northampton Saints.

In contrast, Bristol Bears find themselves in tenth place with four wins from 11 games, having earned a bonus-point victory over Newcastle Falcons in their last outing.

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


Team news

Bristol Bears: 15. Charles Piutau; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Will Hurrell, 12. Siale Piutau (co-capt), 11. Tom Pincus; 10. Ian Madigan 9. Harry Randall; 1. Jake Woolmore, 2. Tom Lindsay, 3. Lewis Thiede, 4. Ed Holmes, 5. Joe Joyce, 6. Chris Vui, 7. Jack Lam, 8. Jordan Crane (co-capt).

Replacements: 16. Harry Thacker, 17. Yann Thomas, 18. John Afoa, 19. George Smith, 20. Dan Thomas, 21. Andy Uren, 22. Callum Sheedy, 23. Piers O’Conor.

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman; 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Tom O’Flaherty; 10 Gareth Steenson (capt), 9 Jack Maunder; 1 Ben Moon, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3 Harry Williams, 4 Dave Dennis, 5 Jonny Hill, 6 Sam Skinner, 7 Sean Lonsdale, 8 Matt Kvesic.

Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Wilhelm Van der Sluys, 21 Nic White, 22 Joe Simmonds, 23 Ollie Devoto.

 


Last time out:

Bristol Bears 29-31 Exeter Chiefs - Sun, 18th Nov 2018, Ashton Gate

A controversial 83rd-minute penalty try saw Exeter Chiefs snatch a dramatic bonus-point victory over Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate on Sunday.

Pat Lam’s side led 29-24 with the clock in the red, but after the Exeter Chiefs driving lineout had rumbled towards the hosts’ line, referee Greg Macdonald went under the posts to award the match-winning score and break Bristol hearts in the dying seconds.

Tries either side of half-time from Charles Piutau and Luke Morahan saw Bristol surge into a 26-12 lead six minutes into the second period, but Chiefs hit back through Jack Yeandle and Santiago Cordero to make in a two-point game late on.

Sheedy’s fifth penalty – completing a 19-point haul – edged the home side further ahead as time ticked away. But after a flurry of late penalties, the Chiefs and Greg Macdonald had the final say, as Rob Baxter’s side maintained their unbeaten start.


Head-to-head:

Jake Woolmore

Jake Woolmore joined Bristol Bears from Jersey ahead of the 2018/19 Gallagher Premiership campaign, featuring for the Islanders in Bristol’s only league defeat during the 2017/18 season.

Woolmore has made 11 appearances in the Gallagher Premiership this season, and starts in the front row against his former club, going head-to-head with England international, Ben Moon.

Ben Moon

The long-serving prop is one of the original few players in the current Exeter Chiefs squad that remains from the club's days in the RFU Championship.

Moon made his first team debut for the Devon club back in October 2008 - and has since gone on to make his England debut during the Autumn internationals, where he impressed with a series of strong performances.


Harry Randall

Harry Randall joined Bristol Bears from West Country rivals, Gloucester following an impressive campaign in the Greene King IPA Championship while on loan at Hartpury in 2018, and has made seven appearances in the Gallagher Premiership this season.

The former England U20 international has scored twice in his last three league appearances, touching down against Leicester Tigers and Newcastle Falcons at Ashton Gate.

Nic White

The Australian half-back was one of five new signings brought to the Chiefs by Exeter’s Director of Rugby Rob Baxter during the summer of 2017.

Signed initially in 2008 by the Brumbies, he represented Australia at the 2009 Under-20s Junior World Cup in Japan where Australia made the semi-finals and again represented Australia U20s in the 2010 JWC in Argentina where they were beaten in the final by rivals New Zealand.


Word from the camps:

Pat Lam

"It’s going to take a monumental effort for us as a team to beat Exeter, but I keep emphasising us a team, so when you think of the contrast between Sale and Newcastle, it requires us even more so to be a team to take on Exeter on their own patch.

"They lost last week, and they’ve got an eight-day turnaround. They are at home, they haven’t lost there since March. The good thing is there is absolutely no excuse for them not to be at their best. Everything is stacked against us and that’s the way I like it."

Rob Baxter

“We need to look at this Bristol game and challenge ourselves with the right intensity.

“I think that last game was a fantastic challenge and should influence us this time too. They could have beaten us on the day but didn’t.

“We have got to make sure that game keeps us on high alert and we are determined to throw an awful lot into the game at the weekend against them.”


Form guide:

Both Exeter Chiefs’ and Bristol Bears’ last four games in Gallagher Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day.

The Chiefs have not lost at home in the tournament since Worcester were the visitors on February 10th, 2018.

The Bears only two away victories this season were at Wasps in the Premiership Rugby Cup and at La Rochelle in round four of the European Challenge Cup.

Bristol have won just one away game in the tournament since March 2008, by a solitary point at Sale on New Year’s Day 2017.

Exeter have won their last six encounters with Bristol in all tournaments since the Bears’ 25-16 victory at Sandy Park in the RFU Championship in December 2009.

Bristol Bears: WLW
Exeter Chiefs: LWL


Weather forecast

Met Office says: 

Cloudy with some sunny spells into Saturday but staying dry. Overnight frosts are likely. Maximum temperature 5°C.


How to buy tickets:

If you are heading to Sandy Park to cheer on the Bears, you can purchase online now by clicking here.


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