Gloucester v Exeter Chiefs, Aviva Premiership, January 8
Chiefs target Gloucester double
January 6, 2011
Gloucester's Mike Tindall tackles Exeter's Phil Dollman in their clash at Sandy Park earlier this season © Getty Images
Exeter Chiefs will go in search of their first Premiership double when they travel to Gloucester on Saturday.
The Premiership new boys claimed a stunning 22-10 victory in their opening round clash that set the tone for the Chiefs impressive start to the campaign. Since that day they have troubled the league's best sides - claiming a losing bonus against Leicester last weekend.
That hard-earned return saw them close the gap on Gloucester in the league table after the Cherry and Whites slumped to a shock defeat at the hands of basement side Leeds Carnegie. But they will still be confident of extending their impressive home record having not lost at Kingsholm since falling to Wasps in 2009.
Gloucester - Player to Watch: Gloucester boss Bryan Redpath has urged his side to be more "abrasive" so expect flanker Andy Hazell to lead by example.
Gloucester - Team News: Gloucester have resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes to his side with the introduction of wing Charlie Sharples and prop Paul Doran-Jones the only two changes to the side beaten by Leeds. Sharples comes in for Lesley Vainikolo who has missed training this week due to illness in the family while Doran-Jones returns after missing out at Headingley last weekend.
Exeter Chiefs - Player to Watch: Fly-half Gareth Steenson tormented Gloucester in their earlier meeting and will be one to watch in his first start since October.
Exeter Chiefs - Team News: Steenson featured off the bench last weekend against Leicester in his first outing since suffering knee ligament damage three months ago and his return to the No.10 shirt is the sole change to the side narrowly beaten by the Tigers. The Irishman takes over at No.10 from Ryan Davis, who drops to the bench.
Key Battle: Exeter's second row pairing of Tom Hayes and James Hanks have won rave reviews this season but face tough challenge in the form of Gloucester duo Will James and Alex Brown.
Trivia: The Chiefs have lost on both of their previous visits to Kingsholm for a competitive match - in the cup in 1982 and 2002.
Stats: The boot of fly-half Gareth Steenson booted the Chiefs to a 22-10 victory over Gloucester in their earlier meeting at Sandy Park.
"We beat ourselves down at Exeter. Credit to them for how they played and they've proved over the past three or four months that they are a very efficient team." - Gloucester boss Bryan Redpath rues one that got away earlier in the season.
"It's another good performance from us but we've got to make a decision - are we going to be solid performers who pick up losing bonus points and win the games we're supposed to win or are we going to knock forward a little bit?" - Exeter boss Rob Baxter lays down the gauntlet to his side in the wake of their defeat to the Tigers.
Fantasy: Exeter's Tom Hayes is second to only Leicester's George Skivington amongst locks vying for supremacy in the ESPNscrum's Fantasy Rugby Game - should he be in your team?
Prediction: Gloucester will no doubt be quietly seething about their opening round reverse at Sandy Park and the defeat to Leeds will spark a backlash at the expense of the Chiefs.
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