Chiefs side to face Glasgow
By Mark Stevens
Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter wants his side to wrap up their pre-season programme on a high note when they tackle Glasgow Warriors in their final warm-up game at Millbrae, home of Ayr RFC, this evening (kick-off 7.30pm).
Having tackled Connacht and the Cornish Pirates on home soil for the past two weekends, the Chiefs head North of the Border looking to fine tune their game plan a little more as the countdown to their seasonal opener against Sale Sharks draws ever nearer.
Certainly the signs were there last Saturday as Baxter (pictured) watched on with satisfaction as his side - who had come unstuck 8-6 against Connacht the week previous - returned to winning ways by demolishing the visiting Pirates 56-3 with an eight-try blast at Sandy Park.
Baxter will indeed be hoping for more of the same from his troops against a Warriors side, who themselves were undone 49-27 by Sale at Heywood Road at the weekend.
"We've set ourselves one or two targets for the game, but primarily we are just hoping to get a good level of performance out of the guys," said Baxter. "That is kind of what we talk about as our main fundamental here at the club. We know results will more often than not tend to look after themselves if individuals go out, they perform well, and they work hard for one another.
"We know that wasn't quite the case in our first game against Connacht, but we obviously got it a lot better against the Pirates last week. As I said, there were reasons why we were a little bit rusty against Connacht and why we accelerated so much against the Pirates, but I'm relatively comfortable with all of that.
"For now, we're another week down the line in terms of our preparations and I just want us to take that next step. Again we've had that little bit more pure rugby preparation time, which I think will really help us, and we're taking a strong squad to Glasgow for what I know will be a tough test for us. It's these challenge, though, that you want to face head on and I think by doing that it will start to put us in good nick for what will be a very tough start to the season in the Aviva Premiership."
With Baxter opting to use tonight's final friendly as the ideal opportunity to get back into proper match-day mode, he is taking a squad of just 26 players with him to Ayr.
"Selection was tough this week," he admitted. "It was tough because a lot of guys showed some really good form against the Pirates last week and definitely put their hand up in terms of selection for this week. That said, we started the Connacht game with a lot of the guys who performed so well for us last season in the Premiership and who we know are capable of playing at the very highest level.
"Some times you just need to bring a bit of reality to the table, especially selection, and by that I mean you to have remember that only three games ago it was those same players who were pushing hard for a place in the end of season play-offs. All of those things have added up to the fact that some guys have held on from the Connacht selection, whilst some others from last week now have another opportunity to show their worth ahead of the Sale game.
"For me, I guess the most pleasing aspect of all this is that I have a squad of players, any of whom I would be happy to stick into a match-day squad and know they would be able to produce a big, energetic and enthusiastic performance."
Among the Exeter starting XV is former Glasgow lock Aly Muldowney (pictured), whilst the Warriors themselves will be boosted by the return of six international players to their starting line-up.
Five of the group, fly-half Duncan Weir; tight-head prop Moray Low; lock Tom Ryder and flankers Rob Harley and John Barclay, were part of Scotland’s tour to Australasia, which saw them win all three Tests against Australia, Samoa and Fiji. Winger DTH van der Merwe, meanwhile, saw summer service with Canada, whilst prop Ryan Grant, will be on the bench.
Admission to the game is £5 for adults (payable on the gate). Under- 16s go FREE. Ayr will retain all proceeds from the gate and bar. Limited public parking will be available in the main Millbrae car park, as well as the 2nd XV pitch (subject to weather) and the nearby cricket club.
Exeter supporters not attending the game will be able to keep up to date with the action via the club's official Facebook and Twitter feeds.
EXETER CHIEFS SIDE TO FACE GLASGOW WARRIORS
15 Phil Dollman
14 Josh Tatupu
13 Ian Whitten
12 Jason Shoemark
11 Matt Jess
10 Ignacio Mieres
9 Kevin Barrett
1 Brett Sturgess
2 Chris Whitehead
3 Hoani Tui
4 Tom Hayes (capt)
5 Aly Muldowney
6 Tom Johnson
7 James Scaysbrook
8 Richard Baxter
16 Simon Alcott
17 Carl Rimmer
18 Craig Mitchell
19 James Hanks
20 Ben White
21 Will Chudley
22 Gareth Steenson
23 Luke Arscott
24 Damian Welch
25 James Phillips
26 Mark Foster