Exeter Chiefs name side to face Bath
Exeter Chiefs coach Ricky Pellow says lessons learned from the club's first-ever experience of the Heineken Cup will prove invaluable in the future growth of the Devon outfit.
Recent defeats to Clermont Auvergne and Leinster brought to an end Exeter's European exploits for another season, but Pellow says the challenge of tackling two of the heavyweights clubs in the Northern Hemisphere has served a meaningful purpose. Now the Chiefs hope to use those experiences, not just in the Aviva Premiership, but also in the LV= Cup which resumes tomorrow with a trip to old rivals Bath at the Recreation Ground (2.15pm).
Pellow said: "We have taken some things that we have seen in those games and will use them in this block of games. It has been a massive learning curve for everyone in the Heineken Cup and we will take everything we've learned into the LV= Cup. "If we can just tweak around one or two of the things we have worked on this week, it will aid our performance. It will be about intensity for us this weekend, stopping their big runners and then we have to be really energetic and enthusiastic, playing with the ball in hand."
Whereas Bath have won once [against the Dragons] and lost once [against Harlequins] in their opening two LV= Cup games, the Chiefs will make the short trek to the Roman City knowing they head Pool One and are one of only two teams - Harlequins are the other - who boast a 100 per cent record in the competition.
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Back in November, London Welsh were easily dispatched 42-15 at the Kassam Stadium 42-15, whilst a week later the Chiefs overcame the visiting Ospreys 23-13 at Sandy Park. Both performances were impressive and Pellow, himself a former Heineken Cup winner with Bath, hopes his team can reproduce a similar display against his former club.
Pellow added: "We have talked about the foundations of those two games and what got us those performances and results. We have talked about being physical, carrying the ball hard and putting intensity into our line speed.
"If we can do that with the mixture of younger and older guys, it will be a great game and a good stepping stone for the younger players as well as the senior guys.
"It definitely bodes well for the future. Everyone saw the performance at London Welsh and the Ospreys and we've gone for that same kind of blend with the squad again. It gives another opportunity for the Academy guys to come in and hold their hands up."
As well as looking to preserve their winning streak in this season's competition, the Chiefs will also be looking to inflict a first loss on Bath - in all competitions - since their elevation into the top flight back in 2010.
"It has been a really exciting week dropping back into the LV= Cup and working with a different group of players," said Pellow, who is the club's skills coach.
"It has been a really focused week and the guys have put a lot of intensity into training. We've got a massive opportunity as a club to go up to Bath and put in a really good performance and earn that first win against Bath in any competition.
"That will be a really exciting challenge for the guys. If we can bring a lot of intensity to the game on Saturday, it will be a really good game."
After several weeks of brutal battle, it is hardly a surprise that the Chiefs look to utilise their squad to the full for this weekend's fixture. And that means a complete new-look starting XV from that which faced Leinster a week ago. Skippering the side and set to make his first-ever competitive start for the Chiefs is summer signing Kai Horstmann, who has now fully recovered from a hamstring injury.
Whilst also set to make his debut for the club is Fijian flyer Watisoni Votu, who after a protracted visa process, is finally ready to unleash his attacking talents.
England Under-20s starlets Jack Nowell, Sam Hill, Henry Slade and Luke Cowan-Dickie all start, whilst there is plenty of experience around the park in the shape of Nic Sestaret, Craig Mitchell, Damian Welch and Ben White.
Chiefs side to face Bath: 15 Jack Nowell 14 Watisoni Votu 13 Nic Sestaret 12 Sam Hill 11 Josh Tatupu 10 Henry Slade 9 Will Chudley 1 Carl Rimmer 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie 3 Craig Mitchell 4 Will Carrick-Smith 5 Damian Welch 6 Joel Conlon 7 Ben White 8 Kai Horstmann (capt) 16 Jack Yeandle 17 Chris Budgen 18 Alex Brown 19 Justin Blanchet 20 Sam Simmonds 21 Junior Poluleuligaga 22 Myles Dorrian 23 Mark Foster