Match Preview | Exeter
A trip to face the defending European champions awaits Glasgow Warriors this weekend, as Danny Wilson’s side travel to take on Exeter in their opening match of the 2020/21 Heineken Champions Cup.
The two teams have become familiar foes in recent seasons, having been grouped together in three of the past seven campaigns.
Indeed meetings between the pair have included some of Glasgow’s standout European memories, with matches frequently hotly contested and boasting some unforgettable scores.
With the English outfit having claimed a domestic and European double in 2019/20, however, there will be no danger of the Warriors underestimating the task that lies in store.
🆕 𝗪𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗼𝗿 𝗡𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗠𝗲𝗺𝗯𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗽𝘀
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— Glasgow Warriors (@GlasgowWarriors) December 4, 2020
Here’s how Exeter shape up ahead of Sunday’s clash:
Exeter form guide
The English champions have made a flying start to the defence of their title in 2020/21, sitting top of the Premiership with a maximum 15 points from their three matches so far.
An opening night demolition of Harlequins saw Sam Simmonds run in a hat-trick of tries, as Exeter cruised to a 33-3 victory at the Stoop.
A further six tries followed in their first home match of the new season, Bath being put to the sword 40-3 at Sandy Park at the end of November.
Rob Baxter’s men were made to work slightly harder for their most recent victory, but still emerged with a 35-13 win from a trip to Leicester Tigers last weekend.
A brace of Exeter’s longest-serving players hung up their boots following the triumphant 2019/20 campaign, as Gareth Steenson and Phil Dollman each said their final farewells to the Exeter faithful.
Matt Kvesic and Sam Hill also departed in order to join Worcester Warriors and Sale Sharks respectively, whilst the Warrior Nation welcomed Enrique Pieretto to Scotstoun following his departure from Sandy Park.
Australian duo Nic White and Dave Dennis were two more to pack their bags, with White returning home to join the Brumbies and Dennis heading west to link up with the LA Giltinis.
Glasgow supporters already know plenty about Exeter’s headline signing, following Jonny Gray’s move to Sandy Park prior to the resumption of rugby earlier this year.
Fellow Scotland cap Sam Hidalgo-Clyne joined him in making the switch to Devon, as the scrum-half helped his new team to a first-ever European title after arriving from Lyon.
Promising young English full-back Josh Hodge was amongst a raft of youthful recruits to join ahead of rugby’s restart, journeying south after impressing for Newcastle Falcons in the Championship.
Ones to watch
Overlooked by England for the Autumn Nations Cup, Sam Simmonds has started the season with the bit firmly between his teeth. The number eight has scored a remarkable six tries in three matches so far this season, his pace and power causing havoc for opposing defences.
Simmonds’ younger brother Joe has also been catching the eye over the last couple of years; now a co-captain of the club, the fly-half boasted the best kicking record in the Heineken Champions Cup last season and is surely the next in line for an England call-up.
In a team that prides itself on forward power, Jannes Kirsten is potentially the prime example. The South African – capable of playing in the second row or back row – is a physical defender, as well as a bruising ball-carrier capable of overpowering any player in his way.
The two teams were the pace setters in their Heineken Champions Cup pool last season, with the Warriors the only team to prevent Exeter from winning in an otherwise perfect European campaign.
The English outfit claimed victory at Sandy Park back in November 2019, running in four tries in a 34-18 win over their visitors.
When the two sides met at Scotstoun in January 2020, however, the Warrior Nation were served an instant European classic; an eight-try thriller eventually saw the points shared, with Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, George Horne and Niko Matawalu all crossing for Glasgow in a 31-31 draw.
Mathieu Reynal will be the man in the middle at Sandy Park this weekend, following in the footsteps of fellow French officials Pascal Gauzere and Romain Poite in refereeing encounters between Glasgow Warriors and Exeter.
Adam Leal and Anthony Woodthorpe will be his assistants, with Stuart Terheege on hand if required as the Television Match Official.
The match is live on BT Sport 2 this Sunday, with kick-off scheduled for 3.15pm.
BBC Radio Scotland will also have full commentary on FM, whilst you can follow all the action as it happens in our Live Match Centre on glasgowwarriors.org.