Exeter Chiefs v Leeds Carnegie, November 20, KO 15:00
Chiefs look to heap woe on Leeds
November 19, 2010
Kiwi Jason Shoemark is set to make his Premiership bow off the Exeter Chiefs' bench © Getty Images
Exeter have surprised many so far this season and they will look to add Leeds Carnegie's name to that list when they visit Sandy Park on Saturday.
The Chiefs have recorded three wins in this season's Premiership - most recently claiming the scalp of last year's finalists Saracens - and only London Irish have tasted victory on Exeter's home patch. In contrast, Leeds are yet to win in this season's Premiership with a couple of losing bonus points their only reward so far.
Both these sides were tipped for relegation at the start of the campaign and while one has lived up to that level of expectation the other has delighted in proving the doubters wrong. What was always going to be billed as an eight-point game has taken on even greater significance for the visitors.
Exeter Chiefs - Player to Watch: New Kiwi recruit Jason Shoemark is named on the bench but is set to make his Premiership bow having joined the club earlier this month. He brings Super Rugby and provincial rugby clout to an Exeter side already boasting plenty of ambition.
Exeter Chiefs - Team News: Exeter make four changes to the side that drew with Cardiff Blues in the Anglo-Welsh Cup last time out. Centre Bryan Rennie, winger Andrew Higgins, flanker James Scaysbrook and prop Chris Budgen all return. On the bench Chad Slade is also back as he was not picked by Samoa for their international against England at Twickenham.
Leeds Carnegie - Player to Watch: Ceiron Thomas returns to the Leeds No.10 shirt and the visitors' hopes of breaking their duck will rely on his form with the boot and his ability to stretch the home side with ball in hand.
Leeds Carnegie - Team News: The Leeds side boasts six players who featured in their last victory over Exeter back in 2008. In the backs Scott Mathie and Scott Barrow return while Tom Denton and Rhys Oakley will be on familiar ground in the forwards. Finally, Danny Paul and Leigh Hinton are on the bench.
Key Battle: The Chiefs' veteran tight-head Chris Budgen has rolled back the years at times this season. His battle at scrum time with Leeds loose-head Gareth Hardy and the front-row showdown in general should be pivotal.
Trivia: Leeds Carnegie have won only one game since April - a 23-9 result at Bucharest in the European Challenge Cup.
Stats: Leeds have won their last six matches against Exeter in National One since 2000-01. The Chiefs' last win over Leeds was 13-10 at the old County Ground in Premiership Two on April 22, 2000.
"Our paths have crossed regularly over the years. We know it's going to be a tough game on Saturday. We know Leeds are targeting this game almost as a must-win for them." - Exeter coach Rob Baxter looks forward to his side's latest meeting with Leeds
"Unlike most teams in the Aviva Premiership, we have obviously played at Sandy Park so it will not come as a shock to our guys. We have to make sure that we arrive there with the right mentality and ready to take them on." - Leeds coach Neil Back is not daunted by a return to Sandy Park
Fantasy: Exeter winger Mark Foster has bagged an impressive 39 Fantasy points so far this season - time you changed your ESPNscrum Fantasy Game line-up?
Prediction: Exeter continue to catch the eye this season and would like nothing more than to underline their Premiership credentials by exacting some revenge on their old rivals for some recent defeats in English rugby's second tier. The Leeds formbook does not make such pleasant reading and the outlook is set to be even worse come Saturday night.
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