ERCC: Exeter Chiefs v Leinster Preview

Exeter and Leinster will go head-to-head in one of Sunday's blockbuster European Rugby Champions Cup fixture.

Pool 3 once again offers up an absolute cracker, as its top two sides go toe-to-toe at Sandy Park, in a match that will play a monumental role in deciding who comes out on top. The English champions Exeter have been in fine touch again this season, topping the Aviva Premiership standings, while Leinster have been as powerful as ever. With a rematch scheduled just six-days after this weekend's epic, all eyes will be glued to the goings-on in Devon this Sunday.

Exeter Chiefs v Leinster Rugby | Sunday 10 December | Sandy Park | 19:30

To Win (80 Mins)
Exeter 6/10 | Draw 22/1 | Leinster 13/10


The Chiefs' last six-outings in all competitions reads as the following: played six, won six. While few would have suggested that Rob Baxter's boys would have been genuine Champions Cup title-contenders at the beginning of the season, their fantastic showings over the past few weeks - which has included wins over Saracens, Scarlets and Bath - has certainly elevated them to "dark horse" status. Their pinpoint set-piece and simple, pragmatic style has been the key to their success; which doesn't look to stop anytime soon.

Leo Cullen's Leinstermen will be a serious challenge for Exeter this weekend, with the Irish leading the way in the 'Pool of Death'; albeit by just two-points. The Chiefs most recent result, a 42-29 home win over Bath, again saw flyhalf Gareth Steenson shine on his way to securing 17-points for his side. The 33-year-old Irishmen will have a pivotal part to play again this Sunday against a very complete Leinster lineup, in what is expected to be tough, windy conditions. His kicking may well make all the difference.


Leinster have every reason to believe they can go all the way this season; both domestically and on the European front. Theirs is a squad full of world-class individuals, playing some mesmerizing football under coach Cullen, and it wouldn't be too far-fetched a claim to suggest that they may just make 2017/18 one of their finest seasons to date. Considering they will still welcome the likes of Garry Ringrose and Jamie Heaslip back from injury, later on, it is scary to think how good this side could become.

Realistically, coming away with even a losing bonus-point will be enough for Leinster to have a good shot at topping their pool, but with the fierce competitors involved in the union, they're unlikely to settle for the bare minimum. To beat Exeter this week, Leinster's set-piece needs to function at nothing less than 100%, while they will definitely need the likes of Johnny Sexton to keep them in the right areas of the pitch throughout the contest. Leinster have the pedigree to punish any opposition mistake from nearly any area of the field, and may just rely on a constricting, territory-based game to squeeze the life out of the Chiefs. It's set to be one hell of a contest.

Verdict: Exeter 6/10
With the form they are in, the Chiefs will be tough to beat; particularly at home. Steenson will have a huge role to play this weekend as his side looks to go top of the pool. They should squeak it by about eight-points to make next week's rematch an even zestier affair.

Written by Shaun Goosen for

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