Preview: Exeter Chiefs v Saracens

Fri, 19 May 2017 09:04
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PREMIERSHIP SEMIFINAL: In a repeat of last year's final, the defending champions Saracens take a trip to Sandy Park to take on the Exeter Chiefs in the 2017 semifinals on Saturday.

The host Exeter Chiefs head into this semifinal with a run of eight successive maximum point victories and will hope to eclipsed last year's 20-28 final defeat.

The Devonians arrive in the semifinals having not lost a Premiership game since Bath beat them last October.

Exeter Chiefs ended this season with 15 wins and have they sight set on the Twickenham.

However,  they will encounter a Saracens side standing just two wins away from achieving a second successive European and domestic trophy double, which has only been done by one other English club – Leicester in 2001 and 2002.

Saracens head into this clash with 16 wins and have recently defeated Exeter Chiefs at Sandy park this season.

Players to watch is England and Exeter Chiefs star Jack Nowell,  and this season' second best finisher with 11 tries James Short will be eaher to prove themselves against the dominating Saracens side.

While for Saracens, Owen Farrell and the Vunipola brothers - Billy and Maku - prove to be in formidable form. Farrell was this season’s top points-scorer in the Champions Cup.  While the Vunipola duo combined for 36 carries, 20 of them from Billy, and 22 tackles, 14 of which belonged to loosehead prop Mako to secure the Champions cup for the defending champions.

Prediction: Exeter have lost just one of their last eight semifinal encounters in all competition it was a 19-30 at Gloucester in the European Challenge Cup in 2015. The Devonians have lost just twice at Sandy Park in  Premiership Rugby this season – to Saracens in round two and Bath in round seven. Saracens six-game winning run in Premiership Rugby ended with their 15-35 reversal at Wasps in round 22. Saracens have won just two of their last five away games in the competition it was at Newcastle in round 17 and at Northampton in round 20. Saracens have played in eight previous Premiership Rugby semifinals, the last seven in succession, and have progressed to the final on five occasions, 2010, 2011, and 2014 to 2016. Saracens are unbeaten in their last five matches against The Chiefs since Exeter’s 24-20 win at Allianz Park in May 2015. Saracens record at Sandy Park is an impressive won five lost two. It is truly going to be a scintillating encounter but Saracens will manage to edge Chiefs and should take it by 5 points.

Teams:

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson (captain), 9 Stuart Townsend, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Don Armand, 6 Kai Horstmann, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Dave Dennis, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Michele Campagnaro

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Owen Farrell (captain), 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jackson Wray, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Mike Ellery

Date: Saturday, May 20
Venue: Sandy Park
Kick-off: 14.30 (14.30 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Craig Maxwell-Keys, Ross Campbell
TMO: Stuart Terheege

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Team P W D L Pts
Exeter Chiefs 3 2 0 1 11
Wasps 3 2 0 1 10
Saracens 3 2 0 1 9
Newcastle Falcons 3 2 0 1 9
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Bath 3 2 0 1 8
Sale Sharks 3 1 0 2 7
Leicester Tigers 3 1 0 2 5
Gloucester 3 1 0 2 5
London Irish 3 1 0 2 5
Worcester Warriors 3 0 0 3 0