Braves side to face Bristol

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Exeter Braves coach Haydn Thomas wants his side to build on Monday night's win over Harlequins when they visit Harlequins today. Picture:

By Mark Stevens

Haydn Thomas has called for 'more of the same' from his Exeter Braves side ahead of today's Premiership Rugby Shield trip to Bristol Bears (1pm).

The Braves extended their lead at the top of the Southern Conference with a 47-12 victory over Harlequins on Monday night - and they know victory at Lockleaze this afternoon will guarantee them a place in the semi-finals.

The aim, however, remains to secure home advantage in the last four and with Saracens Storm - who visit Sandy Park on Easter Monday - hot on their heels, the need to deliver another high class display is imperative according to Thomas.

"We played very well on Monday night against what was a strong Harlequins side," said Thomas.  "There were some very strong elements to our game, both in attack and defence, and now we're looking for the guys to do the same against what will be another strong opponent in Bristol.

"We're in a strong position at the top of the group, but we know we can't afford to let our foot off the pedal.  We want to have home advantage in the semi-final and the only way to do that is to get victories in these next two games against Bristol and Saracens."

The Braves head into today's game with an unchanged back division, but there are changes in the pack where there are starts for hooker Jack Innard, locks Josh Caulfield and Lewis Pearson, as well as James McRae in the back-row.  Aussie international Greg Holmes takes on the captain's role after James Freeman was ruled out with a hamstring injury sustained early in Monday night's win.

"It's a good mix of experience, coupled with those guys coming through the academy," explained Thomas.  "Over the years, we've had the likes of Kai Horstmann and Julian Salvi come into this side and add that leadership - and now we've got the likes of Greg Holmes and Moray Low doing a similar job."

Today's game takes place at the Bristol Combination Ground, Bonnington Walk, Bristol, BS7 9XF.


15 Phil Dollman
14 James Short
13 Max Bodilly
12 Tom Hendrickson
11 Tom O'Flaherty
10 Harvey Skinner
9 Sam Maunder
1 Billy Keast
2 Jack Innard
3 Greg Holmes (capt)
4 Josh Caulfield
5 Lewis Pearson
6 James McRae
7 Onehunga Kaufusi
8 Tom Lawday

16 Elvis Taione
17 Moray Low
18 Marcus Street
19 Jake Clemson
20 Paul Schroter
21 Joe Snow
22 Charlie Davies
23 Harry Strong

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