Aviva Premiership Preview: Exeter take on Sale at Sandy Park
Last Updated: 18/04/14 3:49pm
Exeter entertain Sale as the race for the spot that guarantees a play-off for European Champions Cup qualification hots up.
The Chiefs will be aiming for successive Aviva Premiership victories for the first time since November, although they have recorded only one victory in their last four encounters at Sandy Park.
The Sharks head into the clash looking to secure a little piece of history. They have won their last four away games in the Premiership but have never won five in succession on the road in the tournament's' history.
Exeter boss Rob Baxter has made just one change to his starting XV for Saturday's clash.
The sole change sees skipper Dean Mumm revert back into the second-row as Don Armand (ankle) is ruled out. Mumm's switch means a recall to the ranks for Ben White on the open-side flank.
On the bench, there is also just one change as experienced prop Hoani Tui offers back-up at tight-head in place of Welsh international Craig Mitchell.
Whilst thoughts of a potential end-of-season European Play-Off may have occupied the thoughts of many Exeter Chiefs supporters in the past week, head coach Rob Baxter insists he and his team are focused solely on Sale's visit.
With the new-look format finally sorted for next season and beyond, the Chiefs are well aware that the battle to get amongst Europe's elite is going to go to the wire over these final three rounds.
Sale, who stand 11 points and one place better off than the Chiefs currently, pose the first of three battles, before Harlequins (home) and Newcastle Falcons (away) wrap up the domestic campaign.
The visitors have made a couple of changes to their starting XV.
Amongst the backs, Charlie Ingall comes in for Mark Cueto.
And up front, Viliami Fahiki starts at number eight with James Gaskell moving from the back of the scrum to start on the blindside flank.
Fellow back-row David Seymour takes over the captaincy from Luke Braid who is not playing this weekend.
Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 Ben White, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (capt), 3 Alex Brown, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Hoani Tui, 19 James Phillips, 20 James Scaysbrook, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Luke Arscott.
Sale: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Jonny Leota, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Charlie Ingall, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Viliami Fahiki, 7 David Seymour (c), 6 James Gaskell, 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Jonathan Mills, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Andrei Ostikov, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Mark Jennings.
Aviva Premiership 2013/14 Round 20
Saracens strengthened their position at the top of the Aviva Premiership table with a 23-18 victory over Newcastle.
Bath first-team coach declined to criticise the referee for George Ford's yellow card during the win over Worcester.
Wasps moved into the European play-off spot with a 38-30 victory over Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership at Twickenham.