Heineken Champions Cup: Exeter Chiefs v Vodacom Bulls

Heineken Champions Cup: Exeter Chiefs v Vodacom Bulls


Luke Cowan-Dickie played in England’s defeat by South Africa at Twickenham in November
Venue: Sandy Park, Exeter Date: Saturday, 17 December Kick-off: 13:00 GMT

England hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie will return from injury to captain Exeter in Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup game against South African side Bulls.

The 29-year-old replaces Jack Yeandle, who drops to the bench.

For the Bulls, who come from Pretoria, Janko Swanepoel comes in at lock and Chris Smit at 12 in the only changes to the starting XV that beat Lyon 42-36.

South African sides are included in the Champions Cup for the first time this season after they joined the United Rugby Championship league.

Exeter – European champions in 2020 – began their campaign with a bonus-point win at Castres and will play the Bulls home and away before hosting Castres at Sandy Park in January.

“What was good last week was that we had a real alignment in everything we did,” said Exeter boss Rob Baxter, whose side had suffered four defeats in five Premiership fixtures before last weekend’s win.

“That’s not necessarily been there all the time over the past 18 months or so, but we saw it last week and it shows that when we have it, we’re a very powerful team.”

Line-ups

Exeter: Hogg; Nowell, Slade, O’Loughlin, Woodburn; J Simmonds, S Maunder; Sio, Cowan-Dickie (capt), Williams, Jenkins, Gray, Ewers, Tshiunza, S Simmonds.

Replacements: Yeandle, Hepburn, Iosefa-Scott, Van Heerden, Grondona, Becconsall, Kata, Hodge.

Bulls: Simelane; Novuka, Gans, Smit, Jacobs; Steyn (capt), Van der Linde; Smith, Du Plessis, Van Rooyen, Ludwig, Swanepoel, Carr, Uys, Steenkamp.

Replacements: Van Zyl, Gqoboka, Lombard, Hanekom, Maqondwana, Johannes, Bannies, Mostert.

Match officials

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)

Touch judges: Jonathan Dufort (France) and Vincent Blasco Baque (France)

TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France)



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