Exeter v Wasps (Sat)

Jack Nowell

England winger Jack Nowell was amongst Exeter’s try-scorers when the Chiefs beat Wasps at Sandy Park on 1 May

Don Armand is preferred to the league’s top try-scorer Thomas Waldrom as Exeter make six changes for their first ever Premiership semi-final.

Ben Moon, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Geoff Parling all come in up front, with Ian Whitten preferred at centre to Sam Hill and winger Olly Woodburn recalled.

Wasps also make six changes from the side which beat London Irish.

Winger Frank Halai and half-back pairing Jimmy Gopperth and Dan Robson are recalled.

Hooker Carlo Festuccia and prop Jake Cooper-Woolley return in the front row, while flanker George Smith starts.

Form guide

Exeter have lost just once at home in any competition since January 2015, when Saracens won 14-11 in the Premiership in February.

The Chiefs are the 11th different side to reach the Premiership last four, making Sandy Park the 11th different venue to host a semi-final.

Wasps’ only defeat in their last seven Premiership matches came at Exeter on 1 May.

They have made it to the last four for the first time since last lifting the Premiership title in 2008.

Wasps have participated in five previous Premiership semi-finals and have failed to reach the final just once, in 2006, when they lost at Sale.

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter told BBC Radio Devon:

“Home advantage doesn’t really mean anything if you don’t turn up in the right frame of mind.

“It’s up to the players to put an emotional energy into the game that really involves the supporters and gets the energy in the whole place building.

“Wasps are quite a scary team to play against because you can play against them very well and all of a sudden tries can come out of nowhere.

“If you look at some people in their back line, they’re all try-scorers who are able to break out of nowhere. That’s the worry with them, that you’ve got to really put your foot on them and keep hold of them if you don’t want them to hurt you.”

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young told BBC Coventry Warwickshire:

“We haven’t been in a Premiership semi-final for eight years. Why wouldn’t we be excited?

“There’s no reason why we can’t go down there and win. We go down there as underdogs, which isn’t a bad thing.

“We’re very respectful of Exeter, who are a very good side, but we have to learn the lessons from how we played there last time.

“We’ll be going in with far more energy and we’re confident that we have the x-factor players to cause any side problems.”

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

Replacements: Yeandle, Hepburn, Francis, Atkins, Waldrom, Lewis, Hill, Short.

Wasps: C. Piutau; Wade, Daly, S. Piutau, Halai; Gopperth, Robson; Mullan, Festuccia, Cooper-Woolley, Launchbury, Davies, Haskell (capt), Smith, Hughes.

Replacements: Johnson, McIntyre, Cittadini, Rowlands, Jones, Simpson, Jackson, Miller.

For the latest rugby union news follow @bbcrugbyunion on Twitter.

comments powered by Disqus