Match Preview: Bristol Bears v Exeter Chiefs

Match Preview: Bristol Bears v Exeter Chiefs

A bumper crowd of more than 24,000 is expected at Ashton Gate for a festive Friday night encounter between Bristol Bears and Exeter Chiefs.

The hosts are going in search of their third consecutive Gallagher Premiership Rugby win and will be looking to repeat the attacking form which saw them rack up a half century of points against Gloucester Rugby in their last home outing.

Chiefs were impressive winners over Leicester Tigers last time out and have won five of their last six meetings with the Bears - including 50-14 in the corresponding fixture last season - but have won just once on the road since October 2022.

Oval Insights

Bristol Bears

  • Fitz Harding made more successful tackles in Round 9 than any other player has in a single match this season (28), missing none.
  • In Round 9, Virimi Vakatawa made 113 metres, two offloads, two clean breaks, beat nine defenders, and scored a try. He has made a league-high 15 offloads so far this season.
  • Bristol Bears have made an average of 8.2 metres per possession so far this season – more than any other team. A league-high 45.3% of their carries have been in the edges.
  • The Bears have beaten more defenders than any other team this season, an average of 23 per 80 minutes.

Exeter Chiefs

  • Henry Slade scored more points than any other player in Round 9 (12), taking his season total to a league-high 87.
  • Tom Wyatt has made the most carries (115), carry metres (699), and beaten the most defenders (37) in the Premiership this season.
  • The Chiefs have made an average of 418 carry metres per 80 minutes this season – more than any other team. They have also averaged the most post-contact metres per carry (1.1).
  • Exeter Chiefs have won the fewest turnovers per 80 minutes in the Premiership (5.4).

TV: Live on TNT Sports, kick-off 7.45pm

Referee: Christophe Ridley

Assistant Referees: George Selwood and Alex Thomas

TMO: Dean Richards

Bristol Bears: 15. Max Malins, 14. Noah Heward, 13. Virimi Vakatawa, 12. Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 11. Rich Lane, 10. Callum Sheedy, 9. Harry Randall; 1. Max Lahiff, 2. Gabriel Oghre, 3. Kyle Sinckler, 4. James Dun, 5. Joe Batley, 6. Steven Luatua (c), 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Magnus Bradbury

System players: 16. Will Capon, 17. Jake Woolmore, 18. George Kloska, 19. Josh Caulfield, 20. Joe Owen, 21. Kieran Marmion, 22. James Williams, 23. Kalaveti Ravouvou

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Ben Hammersley, 14 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Stu Townsend; 1 Nika Abuladze, 2 Dan Frost, 3 Josh Iosefa-Scott, 4 Rusi Tuima, 5 Dafydd Jenkins (c), 6 Ethan Roots, 7 Ross Vintcent, 8 Greg Fisilau   

Replacements: 16 Max Norey, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Marcus Street, 19 Lewis Pearson, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Tom Cairns, 22 Joe Hawkins, 23 Zack Wimbush 

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