Chiefs look to give Wasps the chop
May 6, 2011
Wasps' David Lemi scores during his side's victory over Exeter earlier in the season © Getty Images
Exeter entertain London Wasps at Sandy Park on Saturday in a battle of the Aviva Premiership's also-rans.
The Chiefs, who have impressed many on their way to securing their Premiership status following promotion last season, ended a four-game losing run with a victory over Sale last time out and will be keen to cap a superb first season in the top flight with a final flourish.
Wasps, currently one place and four points above the Chiefs in 8th spot in the table, have lost eight in a row away from home and can only boast one win in their last five matches against relegation-threatened Leeds. But they can take hope from a 24-12 victory over their rivals in December plus the fact that the Chiefs have lost two of their last three home games.
Exeter - Player to Watch: Captain Tom Hayes has been one of the stars of this year's Premiership and the industrious lock will look to erase the memory of a drubbing at the hands of Saracens on their last Sandy Park outing.
Exeter - Team News: The Chiefs stick with the same side that saw off Sale with the only changes coming on the bench where Ignacio Elosu replaces the unavailable Chris Budgen, who is playing for the British Army in their clash with the Royal Navy at Twickenham, and Jason Shoemark takes over from Bryan Rennie.
Wasps - Player to Watch: Dave Walder takes the Wasps reins for the last time before heading to Japan and will no doubt want to leave on a high note.
Wasps - Team News: Nic Berry takes the No.9 shirt from Joe Simpson, who suffered a broken thumb in the build-up the last game Christian Wade replaces Tom Varndell on the wing with the latter sidelined by a knock. Elliot Daly swaps places with Richard Haughton and moves to the wing with Haughton named at fullback. In the pack, Tim Payne, Richard Birkett and Sam Jones all come into the starting line-up while Joe Launchbury shifts to flanker. It will also be a final appearance in a Wasps shirt for a number of players in addition to Walder, including Ben Jacobs and Joe Ward who are moving on next season.
Key Battle: Scrum-half Haydn Thomas will become the latest member of the Exeter '100 Club' and will be determined to mark the occasion with a strong showing - but he is unlikely to get everything his way with opposite number Nic Berry.
Trivia: The Chiefs may have lost to Wasps already this season - but they have also beaten them thanks to a 29-6 Anglo-Welsh Cup victory in November.
Stats: Wasps veteran Simon Shaw will reclaim the Premiership appearance record on Saturday when he turns out for the 237th time. In doing so he will edge out Saracens' Hugh Vyvyan with who he currently shares the record.
"Everyone has got behind the club and we've needed it. They've created a hell of an atmosphere at Sandy Park that's probably the envy of most Premiership clubs." - Chiefs assistant Ali Hepher pays tribute to the Sandy Park faithful
"We want to finish on a positive after such a disappointing performance against Bath and we owe it to our supporters to show them that we are a much better team than that." - Wasps' interim boss Leon Holden demands his side raise the bar
Fantasy: These sides may have struggled to set the fantasy leagues alight but the more astute of you will have Exeter stalwarts Tom Hayes and James Scaysbrook in your ESPNscrum Fantasy Rugby Game line-ups.
Prediction: Exeter to rewards their fans by restoring Sandy park's reputation as one of the most formidable places to play in the Premiership.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton