Match Preview: Exeter Chiefs
Glasgow Warriors return to Heineken Champions Cup action on Saturday afternoon, as English Premiership leaders Exeter Chiefs make the trip to Scotstoun this weekend.
After splitting the December double-header with La Rochelle, Dave Rennie’s side know that a victory is essential to maintaining their hopes of qualifying for a second successive quarter-final in Europe’s premier club competition.
The men from the south coast of England currently top Pool Two, sitting in prime position to claim a place in the last eight.
Yet with a sold-out Scotstoun set to welcome them to Glasgow in it’s inimitable style, the stage is set for another titanic European clash on Saturday afternoon.
Here’s how Exeter are shaping up ahead of this weekend’s match:
Exeter Chiefs form guide
Rob Baxter’s side are in pole position to win Pool Two, having claimed 19 points from a possible 20 in their four Heineken Champions Cup matches so far this season.
An eye-catching victory away to La Rochelle opened Exeter’s campaign in style, as tries from Dave Dennis, Tom O’Flaherty, Henry Slade and Sam Simmonds gave them a bonus-point 31-12 win at the Stade Marcel Deflandre.
Baxter’s men then overturned a half-time deficit at Sandy Park in round two, coming from behind to earn a 34-18 win over Glasgow Warriors.
A narrow 22-20 victory away to English rivals Sale Sharks followed, before a five-try home triumph over the same opponents sent them clear at the top of the pool at the end of 2019.
After being edged out in the Premiership final last season, Exeter fans said goodbye to a host of favourite sons at the end of the 2018/19 campaign.
Argentina full-back Santiago Cordero headlined the departures, as the flyer joined French side Bordeaux-Begles.
Former Warrior Moray Low was also amongst those saying their farewells to Sandy Park, as the prop hung up his boots for the final time following the Premiership final at Twickenham.
Unquestionably the marquee signing for Exeter ahead of the 2019/20 season came from the Warriors, as Stuart Hogg joined the Devonians ahead of their push for Premiership glory.
A brace of South Africans also bolstered the Exeter pack, with Jannes Kirsten and Jacques Vermeulen arriving from Super Rugby’s Bulls and Sharks respectively.
Argentinian prop Enrique Pieretto became a mid-season acquisition for Baxter’s side, with the 25-year-old linking up with the Premiership side from the Jaguares.
Ones to watch
As was the case when the sides met in November, the Warrior Nation will be training their eyes on Hogg on his return to Scotstoun. The full-back’s pace and footwork will keep the Glasgow defence on its toes, whilst his kicking game offers an extra dimension to the Exeter attack.
The younger brother of back-rower Sam, fly-half Joe Simmonds has emerged as one of the coolest heads in the Premiership this season. Offering a threat with ball in hand, the 24-year-old’s goal-kicking has also been nerveless in both domestic and European competition.
Born in Zimbabwe, England international Don Armand has been one of Exeter’s most consistent performers since arriving at Sandy Park in 2013. The 31-year-old is nearing 150 appearances for the Devon side, offering leadership and a dynamic presence from the back-row.
It was Exeter that emerged victorious when the two sides met in November, claiming a 34-18 win at Sandy Park to strengthen their position at the top of Pool Two.
Despite leading at half-time thanks to Nick Grigg’s try and the boot of Adam Hastings, a powerful second-half showing from the hosts meant that George Turner’s late try was a mere consolation for the Warriors.
Yet it was Glasgow that triumphed on Exeter’s last visit to Scotstoun, producing an impressive display to earn a 28-21 win in front of the Warrior Nation back in January 2018.
Try-of-the-season contenders from Hogg, Tommy Seymour and Matt Fagerson, combined with a penalty try, ensured that the Warriors would claim all five points from the clash to the delight of the home fans.
French referee Romain Poite will take charge of Saturday afternoon’s affair, the 44-year-old unquestionably one of the most experienced officials in the competition.
Vincent Blasco Baqué and Adrien Descottes will be his assistants, with Denis Grenouillet acting as TMO.
With Scotstoun sold-out for the visit of the English Premiership leaders, Glasgow Warriors supporters can watch the match live on BT Sport 2 and BT Sport Ultimate as well as following our live match centre at glasgowwarriors.org. Kick-off is at 3.15pm.