Preview: Northampton v Exeter

At Franklin's Gardens, Sunday, September 9, kick-off 3.00pm

Last Updated: 07/09/12 2:49pm

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Exeter have made a positional switch to their starting XV for Sunday's Premiership clash against Northampton at Franklin's Gardens.

An injury to Kiwi centre Jason Shoemark, sustained in the 43-6 win over Sale, means he misses out this weekend.

It means Phil Dollman moves from full-back to the midfield to stand in for Shoemark, while the number 15 spot will be filled by Luke Arscott.

On the bench, the visitors welcome back Fijian powerhouse Sireli Naqelevuki as one of their three options in the backs.

Shoemark's loss is an untimely blow, but Chiefs assistant coach Ali Hepher said the quality and depth of the current squad is there to be seen.

Hepher believes that the competition for places right across the board was helping to bring out the best in all of the players.


"The guys are on good form and there is pressure for places in every position," he said.

"That is why you get a performance like that of last week because there are those guys pushing hard behind.

With the Chiefs claiming a solitary losing bonus point in two previous top-flight visits to the East Midlands venue, Hepher is expecting a tougher assignment against the Saints this weekend.

"Sunday will be a great challenge for us," he added. "They're obviously a top team.

"Not just in the Premiership, but also in Europe as well and that's where we need to be testing ourselves.

"I think this weekend will give us a good gauge as to how good a side we are."

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder, meanwhile, has named the same starting line-up that beat Gloucester 24-19 in their opener last week.


Despite that win, Mallinder believes his team need to step up from last weekend's performance at Kingsholm.

"It's vital that we get off to a good start at home," said.the Saints boss. "Last weekend at Gloucester we got a good away win and now we have to build on that on Sunday afternoon.

"At times we played well and scored three good tries, but in the last 10 minutes we had to dig deep as well.

"We shouldn't have got ourselves in that position in the first place, but the team spirit was fantastic, we held our defensive patterns and held them out.

"So we know we have to build on both our attack and defence this weekend. Exeter are a quality side, as they have shown for the last couple of seasons. The players work hard for each other and they played well in their win over Sale last Saturday.

"It's going to be a big game and a tough game, but it is one that we are looking forward to."

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Dom Waldouck, 11 Vasily Artemyev, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 GJ Van Velze, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Phil Dowson, 5 Christian Day, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Rhys Oakley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Luther Burrell.

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Josh Tatupu, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Phil Dollman, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 Tom Hayes (c), 3 Craig Mitchell, 2 Chris Whitehead, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Simon Alcott, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Chris Budgen, 19 James Hanks, 20 James Phillips, 21 Kevin Barrett, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Sireli Naqelevuki.

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