Exeter Chiefs v Bath Rugby live: All the build-up to the Gallagher Premiership semi-final match
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Exeter Chiefs vs Bath, Saturday 10 October
Venue: Sandy Park
Referee: Luke Pearce
TV coverage: Live on BT Sport 1 from 3.45pm (Highlights on Channel 5, Monday 12 October, 7pm)
It's game day.
Finally the waiting is over as Exeter Chiefs take on Bath Rugby in the semi-finals of the Gallagher Premiership at Sandy Park on Saturday.
League leaders Exeter are in the play-offs for the fifth year in a row whereas Bath have not been in the final four since 2014/15 when the Blue, Black and White were beaten in the final by Saracens.
Bath of course only got confirmation they were in the play-offs on Wednesday following the saga around Sale Sharks and their now forfeited fixture against Worcester Warriors following an outbreak of Covid-19 at the club which has seen 27 people contract the virus.
Rob Baxter's Exeter side are looking to make it a domestic and European double with a place already secure in the final of the Heineken Champions Cup next weekend against Racing 92.
Exeter Chiefs boss Rob Baxter has told his players they will need to produce a “season’s best” display if they are to overcome rivals Bath Rugby in Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership semi-final at Sandy Park.
Exeter are targeting a European and domestic double, having already made the European Champions Cup final against French giants Racing 92 next weekend.
Exeter, though, will be without talisman Jack Nowell, who misses out with a foot injury. Former Bath player Olly Woodburn comes in on the wing for Nowell. Ollie Devoto, another Bath alumni, replaces Ian Whitten in the centre and up front, South African Jacques Vermeulen returns to the fold in place of Sam Skinner, who drops to the bench.
“It should be a fantastic semi-final,” said Baxter. “Now that things are sorted and we know we are playing Bath, it’s important we move on quickly. Although we didn’t know until Wednesday that we would be playing them, we had some expectations that it would be tough for Sale, particularly given what had happened with their tests – and the numbers that were involved, that they wouldn’t be able to play the semi-final.
“With that in mind, the coaches here have done a huge amount of prep to make sure we had as many things covered as possible, so that when we did get the final decision we were in a place to just go with things. Not knowing who we were going to play actually helped us a little bit, just because it allowed us to talk and focus more on ourselves, now we’ve just add in bits to cater for Bath.”
Bath make three changes after last week’s draw away at Saracens as they prepare for a first semi-final since 2015. Winger Joe Cokanasiga makes his return after spending 16 months out on the side lines following a knee injury.
Cameron Redpath moves into midfield to join Jonathan Joseph with the young England centre replacing Josh Matavesi, who is named on the bench. Flanker Tom Ellis comes back into the matchday 23 for Mike Williams.