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Exeter at Home

By Quins4life
May 5 2016

So we now have completed 21 rounds of 22 of the regular Premiership season and it feels like this season has passed incredibly quickly. It has been a season of highs and lows, and probably an overriding feeling of what might have been. But we are going into the final round of the season in 6th place and in control of our own destiny in terms of returning to the Champions Cup after our one year absence from the top tier of European Rugby. A good bonus point win by 32-25 against London Irish, and Sale losing at home against Gloucester has meant a win at the Stoop against Exeter should mean qualification for the elite European competition. First though, a quick reflection on our match versus London Irish. 

Whilst we raced into an early lead through two tries by Walker and one by Chisholm, London Irish showed some fighting spirit and the game was level at 25-25 with 10 minutes to go. But then a 40m break from prop Sinkler won the game for us and in turn earned us a crucial bonus point which took us up into 6th place and ahead of Sale. Overall I thought we played reasonably well, with a few players that really stood out. I thought Stanley had a great game and his pass to Lowe for the 3rd try was magnificent and would be lorded if it was done by Slade or Daly. Walker once again showed why he should be involved more often with two tries, one with him ripping the ball away from Scottish international Maitland to score. But Lowe once again demonstrated his importance to our side by having a key involvement in three of our tries. He is unlikely to get a look in at international level with the players around at the moment, but with more and more consistent game time we are seeing the true George Lowe. He is without a doubt one of the most underrated players in the Premiership and we are lucky to have him. In the pack, Twomey looked back to his best, despite his mentor Horwill going off injured, and I thought Matthews was impressive when he came on. Collier and Sinkler both had great games and have to be considered for England soon, but Lambert was my forward Man of the Match. Like a fine wine, this guy is getting better with age and had another great game. Not only having an impact in open play, he has improved a lot at scrum time and absolutely destroyed a fresh two-time World Cup winning prop in Franks. Despite all these positives, there are some obvious areas of concern, like our inability to hold onto a comfortable lead and our lineout is still abysmal in both attack and, most worryingly with what is to come, in defence. 

Anyway last up is a home fixture against high-flying and title chasing Exeter Chiefs, who come into this match sitting in 2nd place after a resounding 24-3 victory against Wasps who started the day ahead of them. Exeter dominated the match in truth and thoroughly deserved their victory which was built mainly on the fantastic defensive display against a Wasps side that has been carving up defences this season. We last played Exeter way back in November, when Exeter just edged a pulsating match, winning it 26-25. I still not know to this day how we managed to throw away that game. We were well in control in the first half but still managed to go into halftime behind, after a very dodgy turnover try I seem to remember and we never quite recovered. We still had chances to win the game late on though as Swiel missed a chance to win the game with a simple looking kick, even though the conditions were horrendous. 

I was kind of hoping that Exeter would be going into this game with not a lot to play for but unfortunately that is not the case. Exeter will be chasing a win to secure a top 2 finish in order to earn themselves a home semifinal so we are going to be in for a very tough game. With Wasps likely to win as they are playing against a relegated London Irish side at home, so Exeter will have to win. Out of the four teams that have qualified for the top 4, I have to admit Exeter are the ones I would like to win as I love the story behind them and what they stand for as a club. Also they have a number of good young English players which makes them very likable to the neutrals. The trio of Slade, Ewers and Cowan Dickie have all returned from their various injury troubles this season and are all playing back at the high standards, whilst Nowell has continued his fine 6 Nations form into the last part of the season. The reason why have progressed this season into title challengers is the experience they have added to their side in the form of Parling and Salvi, who have that feeling of ´been there and done it´, which is crucial for the latter part of the season. But personally their key player has to be their 10 in Steenson who is perhaps the most underrated flyhalf in the Northern Hemisphere. As well as a great kicking game both off the tee and in general play, he is able to ignite his exciting Exeter back line. 

Exeter side vs Wasps- Dollman; Nowell, Slade, Whitten, Woodburn; Steenson (capt), Chudley; Moon, Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Lees, Parling, Ewers, Salvi, Armand. 

I don’t think they will make too many changes to the side that beat Wasps last weekend due to this being an important and the fact there is now a two week gap before the semifinals. We may see the return of Premiership top try scorer Waldrom to the side, but I don’t expect many changes to their side. 

Team Selection
With the European final on the horizon I guess there is a dilemma with what team we should put, but I think our players can handle playing two big fixtures in a row. I expect the tight 5 to stay the same, unless Horwill is unfit after going off injured early on against Irish, which will mean Matthews should come in to partner Twomey. In the back row, I expect Robshaw to return at blindside with Clifford at openside after Wallace (who I would start if fit) left the pitch looking incredibly groggy and therefore I doubt will be available for this match. I think we need to start Evans alongside Care in order to get him fully fit for the final as we will need him for his big game experience. I think Roberts will return at 12 and I would like us to rest Lowe for the final to ensure he is fully fit meaning one of Marchant or Stanley will replace. I would pick Marchant. Yarde will be on one wing and it will be interesting if Visser returns to the side straightaway after another great performance from Walker. It’s a tight call, but I think I would like to see Walker get another run out and save Visser for the final. Brown failed a late fitness test for the Irish game which should mean he will be fit for this game. If he isn’t 100% fit I would not risk him and play Chisholm, who actually had a great game against Irish. 

My team to play Exeter- Lambert, Gray, Collier, Twomey, Horwill (Matthews), Robshaw, Clifford, Easter; Care (C), Evans, Walker, Roberts, Marchant, Yarde, Brown (Chisholm) 

Well I have to admit that I am slightly nervous going into this game against a very strong outfit in the form of Exeter. In recent weeks we have been conceding way too many points, and if that continues it could be a long afternoon for us. One area that has to improve is our defence in general, but specifically of the driving maul because it is a key weapon for the Chiefs. That being said, our performances have been steadily improving in the last couple of weeks and I hope and expect us to have enough to give Exeter a very tough game. The motivation of qualifying for Champions Cup should be right on the players mind in order to ensure that the final on the following weekend is not too much of a distraction. Also I think this match is a great chance for us to show our strength and that we will be a force to be reckoned with next season. We also haven’t beaten Exeter in the last fixtures against them which needs to change, and they humiliated us at home last season which definitely cannot happen again. We have to try and exert some dominance up front first and foremost, and if we can, we showed against Irish that we have the players to be incredibly lethal and clinical. On paper these are two very evenly matched sides, but if you compare the two sides on player by player basis, you would probably say we just edge it for experience and quality. That being said, Exeter have a team mentality and have some players who can hurt us, especially Slade who ran the show for Exeter in their win at the Stoop last season. 

This is an incredibly difficult match to call as both teams have a lot to play for. I think our experienced players will be huge on Saturday and we will look towards the likes of Robshaw, Horwill and Roberts to steer us to victory. It’s going to be very tough, high scoring game and we probably go into the game as slight underdogs despite being at home. However I think we can do it and earn our place at the top table of European rugby. It’s the final home game of the season, it’s a sellout, let’s bring the noise as no doubt there will be a lot of Chiefs making the journey up to the Stoop. We can do this and gain more momentum before the Challenge Cup Final. COYQs!!!! 

Score Prediction- Quins 29 Chiefs 25

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Exeter at Home (IP Logged)
05/05/2016 15:04
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Re: Exeter at Home
Monte (IP Logged)
05/05/2016 19:31
Excellent thank you. I. Feel nervous as well everything crossed and lots of noise. They all need to keep on the right side of Barnes. But will be good to have a top ref after some we have had this season. COYQ

Re: Exeter at Home
gregory p (IP Logged)
06/05/2016 17:52
That's good stuff thanks: too close to call?

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