Aviva Premiership: Exeter v Leicester Preview

Aviva-Premiership-Exeter-versus-Leicester-Preview

The Exeter Chiefs and Leicester Tigers will be looking to ring in the New Year on a high note when they square off at Sandy Park on Sunday the 31st of December.

Sixth-placed Leicester will be seeking an end to their recent poor run of results when they visit Sandy Park this Sunday. Meanwhile, their hosts, runaway league-leaders Exeter, will want to end off what has been a terrific year for rugby in Devon on the highest possible note; with a 10th-Premiership win this season.

Exeter Chiefs v Leicester Tigers | Sunday 31 December | Sandy Park | 17:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Exeter 1/4 |  Draw 21/1 | Leicester 29/10

Exeter

The 2016-17 champions have had an electrifying year in 2017. To go along with their Aviva Premiership crown, Exeter finished as runners-up - to this weekend’s opponents - in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and are in prime position to stage a real assault on a second-consecutive domestic title this season.

Heading into Round 12, 10-points ahead of the second-placed Saracens, and having dispatched Northampton on the weekend for a sixth-successive Premiership win, Rob Baxter’s boys will be supremely confident of claiming another comfortable home win.

Since their September loss to the Tigers – their last in the competition to date - the Chiefs really do seem to have hit their straps. Their measured approach has powered them to nine-wins from their 11-games thus far which, despite some struggles in the Champions Cup, should be enough to see them go on to top the overall standings at season’s end.

Leicester this week won’t pose too difficult a challenge, what with their confidence being so low and their senior players in such poor touch, which should allow Exeter to catapult their win column into the double-digits.

Leicester

On the basis of their meagre showing against Saracens a week ago, the Tigers don’t stand much chance against this firing Chiefs line-up. Ill-discipline, along with a plethora of defensive errors allowed 'Sarries to open up a 17-point cushion by the 25-minute mark; something from which the hosts never recovered.

A similar showing this Sunday against an ever-clinical Exeter outfit may see Matt O’Connor’s strugglers hit a whole new world of pain, and serious improvement is required immediately if they are to force an upset.

One has to wonder what exactly went through Jonny May’s head when, with 10-minutes to go in last week’s outing against Saracens, and having already received a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on in the first-half, the 27-year old winger again stretched out a hand in an audacious bid to intercept a pass which he had no hope of securing.

The resulting second yellow meant his game was over but, while the England international has been cleared to face Exeter this weekend, one must question whether he should be named in the starting side this weekend at all. Such poor decision-making should not be tolerated by a club with such a proud heritage, and O’Connor would do well to opt for another option on the left wing ahead of the encounter. Considering the way Leicester have struggled over recent weeks, such actions are inexcusable.

Verdict: Exeter 1/4
With or without May, the battling Leicester will still have their hands full in dealing with the finest side in the land. The Chiefs, cheered on by the Sandy Park faithful, should record another bonus-point win on Sunday.

Written by Shaun Goosen for @Hollywoodbets.net

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