BIG MATCH PREVIEW - Exeter Chiefs

 

 by PETER WOODROOFE
 

EXETER CHIEFS v MOSELEY, National League Division 1, at Sandy Park Stadium, Saturday, November 4, 2006, KO 3.00 pm

New ground

Moseley will travel to the purpose-built Sandy Park Stadium on the outskirts of Exeter on Saturday.

Exeter, founded in 1872, have left the County Ground which has been the home of the rugby club since 1893. Their new home meets Premiership specifications with a capacity of 6,000 at the moment.

Coventry played in the last League game at the County Ground and the first League game at Sandy Park. Exeter won 45-5 last season, but on 16 September, 2006, Coventry held the Chiefs to 13-13 draw in front of a crowd of 5,234.

However, the Chiefs had the opportunity to make amends the following Saturday, defeating promotion contenders Earth Titans (Rotherham) 29-22.

Bournbrook bookends…

Exeter were concerned in another ‘alpha and omega’ situation concerning Moseley. They were the first team to play Moseley in a League game at the University of Birmingham on 7 October 2000 after their enforced move from The Reddings and were the last team to play Moseley at the University before Moseley’s relegation to National 2 on 26 April 2003.

Moseley made successful start to their five-season stay at Bournbrook, winning 27-18, but they lost their last game there 25-36, one of seven consecutive defeats that led to their relegation.

Easter frolics

Fixtures between Moseley and Exeter began in 1925 and visits to Exeter were a most enjoyable part of Moseley’s annual Easter Tour to the West Country which is, alas, no more in this professional era.

In 1981, the two clubs met at the County Ground in the 4th round of the John Player cup, Moseley winning 15-7 in deplorable weather conditions.

Snow joke…

Dreadful weather played its part too in February 1996. Moseley were desperate to play a match to prepare for important League matches ahead and with five inches of snow on The Reddings and with the ground hard underneath, Exeter were kind enough to arrange a club game at very short notice. Torrential rain prevented the game being played at the County Ground, but it was played at a nearby school.

Exeter, adapting to the conditions, won 22-7 and went on to win National Division 4 in their climb up the League structure and Moseley finished sixth in National 2, although they lost seven of their last eight games. ALASTAIR KERR was Moseley’s player of the season, scoring a then club record 172 League points in 18 games, including seven tries.

League progress

Exeter started League rugby in 1987-88 in Division 3, but suffered relegation to Division 4 in 1994-5. As stated previously, they immediately won Division 4 and won promotion from Division 3 to Premiership 2 in 1996-7.

A significant player from 1987 to 1997 was fly-half ANDY GREEN. In the eight of the 10 seasons he played, he scored 1085 League points and he still holds the Exeter League career record of 213 penalties and 22 dropped goals. TONY YAPP has since eclipsed the total points record.

First League meeting

On 27 September 1997, Moseley and Exeter first met in League rugby, in Premiership 2. Moseley did the double in that season, winning 23-22 at The Reddings and 20-10 at the County Ground.

In the following season, it was Exeter’s turn to do the double, 20-8 at home and 15-12 away.

In season 1999-2000, Exeter did the double again with two narrow wins, 20-17 at The Reddings and 16-15 at the County Ground. Just eight points between the two clubs in the six matches played.

Bournbrook era

As mentioned, in 2000-01, Moseley won their first game at Bournbrook, but lost 24-19 at the County Ground.

In the following season, Exeter again did the double, 21-6 and 28-7, but in 2002-3, Moseley’s relegation season, Exeter had an outstanding 73-0 win at the County Ground with the aforementioned TONY YAPP scoring one of Exeter’s 11 tries and converting nine.

Moseley lost by 11 points at Bournbrook on the last occasion they played each other.

High fliers

In their six seasons in Division 1, Exeter have finished 2nd in 2004-5 and 3rd in three seasons. In 2003-4 and last season, they finished 6th.

TONY YAPP, since he joined the club from Worcester in 2002-3, has been the top points scorer in all four seasons and scored a club League record total of 1,112 points. This season he has scored 72 points to date.

His sister, JO, captained the England Women’s team that was narrowly defeated 25-17 in the World Cup finals by New Zealand in Canada last September.

New DoR

Exeter have a new Director of Rugby, the former England Under 21 coach PETER DREWETT, succeeding IAN BREMNER, who departed in the middle of last season.

The stand-in coach was ROB BAXTER, a stalwart of the club since he joined in 1989. He guided the club to victories over high fliers Penzance, Rotherham and NEC Harlequins in the second part of the season and he is now employed in a full-time coaching capacity.

His younger brother, RICHARD, over 200 League appearances, has scored four tries this season, adding to his club League record of 71 tries in his career to the end of last season.

Settled team

Only two new signings have been included in the Exeter team to date this season, both with Premiership experience, winger / full-back BEN BREEZE, signed from Newport Gwent Dragons, and lock OLLIE HODGE, from Bristol.

Long-serving players still with Exeter, in addition to RICHARD BAXTER, include centre STEPHEN WARD, over 100 League appearances and flanker GARY WILLIS, over 200 appearances.

Both these players and winger GARY KINGDOM, TONY YAPP, hooker SAM BLYTHE, ROB BAXTER, and lock IAN BROWN, took part in the last game between Moseley and Exeter in April 2003. Moseley players who took part in that match and could be in Saturday’s team are ANDY BINNS, BEN BUXTON, ALEX HADLEY, PAUL COLES, OLLIE THOMAS, GREG MACDONALD and CARL COLVIN.

Scorers

Exeter’s leading try scorers to date this season are BAXTER and winger JASON LUFF, four apiece, YAPP and flanker ALEX MILLER, two apiece, and three forwards and six backs, including centres JUNIOR and FATOALOFA with one apiece.

Results

They have had victories over Plymouth Albion, 15-14 and Earth Titans, 29-22, at Sandy Park, but lost rather surprisingly to Waterloo and, as mentioned previously, drew with Coventry.

They have won away at London welsh, 30-24, and Nottingham, 24-19, but have been defeated at Bedford and Pertemps Bees and last week were defeated by Cornish Pirates at Camborne. They are currently 8th in National 1.

Positives

Although Moseley lost 37-27 at Headingley Carnegie Stadium last Sunday, they can be encouraged by holding Leeds Tykes to just a 10-point deficit and themselves scoring three tries, just missing a losing and try bonus point. No sin bins!

They were undone, as often happens, by an ‘old boy’, LEIGH HINTON, who converted all four of the Tykes tries and kicked three penalties.

OLLIE THOMAS converted all three of Moseley’s tries and kicked two penalties, bringing his total points for the season to 101.

Moseley remain above the relegation spots, level on points with London Welsh.

Hard ask

On the face of it, with home advantage, Exeter Chiefs should win on Saturday, but a win for Moseley is not beyond their capabilities as they continue to come to terms with National 1 rugby.

A bonus point at least is on the cards, with a feasible chance of emulating Waterloo’s 22-13 win at Sandy Park.

An intriguing game in prospect for the Moseley travellers.

 

Directions

Sandy Park will be a new experience for most of the travelling Moseley support. Only opened at the start of the season it had a full house of 5000 for the first match.

However, getting in shouldn’t be a problem with gates settling down to just over 2000 since the first game.

Excellent directions and information on the Chief’s website – you can even buy your tickets on-line if you wish (though I can’t see why as there’s a 5% charge for debit/credit cards)

Directions

By Car
Whilst there is no parking at the ground itself (except pass holders and blue badge holder - who should apply in advance) it sounds like there’s plenty of parking nearby.


By someone else’s car!
There's a dropping off zone for those with a chauffeur!

By Train
If going by train there is a regular service on match days from Exeter to ‘Digby Holt’ from where it’s a ten minute walk to the ground.

Alternatively there is a match day ‘special’ bus/coach service from Exeter St Davids to the ground, look for the No 78 bus that runs at half hourly intervals.

Ticket Prices
The seem to be ‘about normal’ for National One with ground entry £12 Student/U18 £7 and Under 16s £2. Seats will cost more

Updates

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