Ewers recalled to Exeter Chiefs starting line-up for Leicester match
Rob Baxter has made one change for this week's visit of Leicester Tigers dropping Ben White to the bench and starting with Dave Ewers.
Ewers missed last weekend's 29-23 win over London Irish with a slight tweak in his hamstring will return at No.8, with Tom Johnson reverting back to the blindside flank. With White dropping to the bench, the experienced Kai Horstmann is the unlucky man to miss out.
Baxter, whose side came back from 23-12 down to beat London Irish last time out, knows all too well there is no hiding place when it comes to the Aviva Premiership and Sunday's visit of reigning champions Leicester Tigers to Sandy Park offers him and his Exeter Chiefs squad a formidable weekend work-out.
After successive league wins, the Chiefs have spent this past week readying themselves for what will be a key date in their seasonal programme.
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The Tigers, like the Chiefs, have recorded two wins from three starts so far this term and will arrive in Devon looking to keep pace with unbeaten leaders Saracens at the summit.
Ready to meet that threat head will be the Westcountry outfit who, according to their illustrious leader, have yet to hit top form in the Premiership despite recent successes.
"I am never critical of the players when we get out there and we go for it and play hard," said Baxter. "That said, we haven't really put periods of momentum play together for long spells to say we are really happy with things. In some ways that's a nice place to be as we feel there is more coming all the time and that it's still early in the season.
"Eight points from your first three games is a really good foundation to push on from and it's similar to how we have started seasons in the past, so I am comfortable with where we are. Now, though, we have to build on that foundation, collect some points - I don't mind how we get them - and just make sure we are comfortable with our level of performance.
"The truth is the best teams aren't at their best right now, this is the time when they bed in and get better, so that's what we have to do, which is bed in and get better."
Certainly the signs are encouraging for Baxter, who watched a week ago as his side defiantly fought back from 23-12 down against the Exiles to record a 29-23 victory of their own.
The Exeter coach knows against other sides a similar fightback will be hard to achieve - and has told his troops that their quest for victory must begin from the first blast of Sunday's battle.
"There is no doubt we have to play better this week than we have the last few weeks," added Baxter. "That's nothing unusual to say when you come up against Leicester. They are the reigning champions for a reason and you have to play well to beat them. We know we have to keep our foot on the gas because that has wavered a little bit in the last few weeks. Yes, we've had good moments and good spells, but can we really say we have kept the foot on the throttle all the time? The answer is probably not, so hopefully we can put that right this weekend."
Although the Tigers will be without star centre Manu Tuilagi - who sustained an injury to his pec in the win over Newcastle Falcons last time out - they still have a squad brimming with international stars in all areas.
And Baxter says it's that threat across the board which the Chiefs must nullify from the outset at Sandy Park.
He continued: "We always look forward to Leicester coming down here, it's a big fixture for us, and it's what we got in the Premiership for. I never tire of saying that because these are the kinds of fixtures that we said we wanted to be part of. We worked very hard to get here and now we have to relish every second of it because that gives you as good a chance as any of winning the game.
"We appreciate you have to play well throughout the 80 minutes; we've had some good fixtures against them - a tight game here last year and the one before that we won - so we are looking to perform well and we know we have to be very competitive to be there or thereabouts when the final whistle goes. That's the important thing for us - which is to be competitive in as many areas as possible for as long as possible - and if we put in a good performance, as I always say, I will be happy. The only time thing that will disappoint me is if we don't go for it and we don't go out to play for a win."
Tickets for Sunday's game are still available either online through the Exeter Chiefs' official website or through the Trading Post, which will be open from 10am to 4pm on Friday.
Exeter Chiefs team: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Ian Whitten, 13 Jason Shoemark, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Tom James,
10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 1 Brett Sturgess,
2 Jack Yeandle, 3 Hoani Tui, 4 Dean Mumm (capt), 5 Damian Welch, 6 Tom Johnson, 7 James Scaysbrook, 8 Dave Ewers. Reps: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Carl Rimmer, 19 Tom Hayes, 20 Ben White, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Henry Slade
23 Matt Jess