We want to be the ones dom­i­nat­ing says Lees

The Rugby Paper - - European Champions Cup - By NEALE HAR­VEY

CHIEFS tal­is­man Jack Now­ell re­turns as Ex­eter em­bark on a re­venge mis­sion against Cas­tres to keep their Cham­pi­ons Cup hopes alive.

Now­ell has re­cov­ered from the ham­string in­jury he suf­fered at the back end of Eng­land’s au­tumn cam­paign and re­places Phil Doll­man at full-back – good news for both club and coun­try with the Six Na­tions three weeks away.

Ex­eter were beaten 29-25 in Oc­to­ber by a Cas­tres side re­duced to 14 men. Lock for­ward Mitch Lees ad­mits there is no mar­gin for er­ror if they are to avenge that loss and head to Mun­ster next Satur­day with ev­ery­thing to play for. Lees told The Rugby

Pa­per: “We started strongly over there but they over­pow­ered us with 14 men so we’re look­ing for re­venge.

“This is like a quar­ter­fi­nal al­ready and it’s all to play for for both teams go­ing into this. We think we thrive quite well in these sit­u­a­tions and we want to re­ally get out there and stick it to them.”

Now­ell’s in­clu­sion is one of eight changes to the Ex­eter start­ing XV that strug­gled past Bris­tol.

Alec Hep­burn, skip­per Jack Ye­an­dle and To­mas Fran­cis form a new front row, while Don Ar­mand takes the No.7 jersey.

Be­hind the pack, Nic White and Joe Sim­monds present a fresh half-back part­ner­ship and Ol­lie Devoto is re­called to the cen­tres.

Chiefs need a big win to set up a Pool de­cider at Mun­ster and, hav­ing grabbed back the No.10 jersey from Gareth Steen­son, who is benched, Sim­monds told TRP: “We didn’t have a great start in this com­pe­ti­tion but we’re still alive and if we can bang home a win to­day, that will set us up nicely for Mun­ster next week.

“We want to nail a fast start in the first 20 min­utes and if we can put in a big per­for­mance, the re­sult will take care of it­self.”

Cas­tres re­main in con­tention and warmed-up with a solid de­fen­sive per­for­mance in win­ning 16-6 away at Greno­ble last week.

Lees adds: “Like most French sides, they carry pow­er­fully and work hard around the cor­ner to dom­i­nate you. It’s about match­ing that phys­i­cal­ity and driv­ing them back with two-man hits of your own.

“They then tend to run or kick so we want to be the ones con­trol­ling and driv­ing the game, not try­ing to de­fend out of trou­ble.”

Ex­eter will con­tinue their pol­icy of kick­ing penal­ties to the cor­ner. Lees ex­plained: “Our calls are se­cond to none un­der Sam Skin­ner and we’ve got very good li­ne­out for­wards in Dave Den­nis and Jonny Hill con­trol­ling the skies.

“We go to some dark places to play a high in­ten­sity game that cre­ates set-piece chances – then we’ll back our maul or scrum.”

Cas­tres field the same back­line that de­fended hero­ically in Greno­ble, while Marc-An­toine Ral­lier and Marc Clerc come into the front row and Camille Geron­deau is at No.6.

Back: Jack Now­ell

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