Chiefs bid for play-off spot
Exeter host Northampton on Sunday knowing that a win over the Saints could seal a first-ever appearance in the Aviva Premiership play-offs.
The Chiefs head into the Sandy Park encounter (kick-off 2pm) full of confidence having won their last four league matches on the trot and six of their last seven.
Having moved back into the top four - leapfrogging the Saints along the way - following the last-gasp victory over Worcester Warriors a week ago, the Chiefs are within touching distance of the semi-finals.
But to guarantee a top-four spot, the Devon club must not only see off Jim Mallinder's side, but also prevent their rivals from securing any kind of bonus-point.
Currently the Chiefs - who last weekend secured Heineken Cup rugby for the first time in the club's history - lead the Saints by two points in the standings after the East Midlanders came unstuck on home soil to in-form Leicester Tigers.
Chiefs assistant coach Ali Hepher insists the team are upbeat about their chances, stating: "We feel we are in form; the guys are training well and it's an exciting opportunity for us to try and take.
"Securing Heineken Cup rugby for next season is fantastic, but let's kick on and see if we can do even better."
Head coach Rob Baxter has recalled Kiwi centre Jason Shoemark, a move which sees Phil Dollman revert to full-back, with Luke Arscott the man to make way.
On the bench, the sole change sees Welsh international Craig Mitchell return at the expense of former Saints favourite Chris Budgen.
Meanwhile, Saints director of rugby Mallinder was full of praise for Exeter after selecting a team that showed two changes to the one well beaten by Leicester last time out.
Stephen Myler steps up off the bench to replace Ryan Lamb at fly-half, while Mark Sorenson is drafted in to replace Manu Samoa in the second row. Manoa drops out of the squad altogether with Teimana Harrison taking his place on the bench.
"Rob Baxter and his coaches have done very well to lead Exeter to be challenging for a play-off spot this season," Mallinder said.
"He has created plenty of team spirit in a squad that is prepared to play all the way to the final whistle, as they showed at Worcester last weekend.
"They have turned Sandy Park into something of a fortress in their two years in Aviva Premiership Rugby and are probably favourites for Sunday's game.
"However, this means that the only pressure we are under is what we create for ourselves. We have trained well this week and there is plenty of determination to put right the wrongs of last Saturday afternoon. All the players have a point to prove and there is a positive mood ahead of our trip to Exeter."
Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Bryan Rennie, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 James Hanks, 4 Tom Hayes (capt), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Chris Whitehead, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Neil Clark, 17 Brett Sturgess, 18 Chris Budgen, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Ben White, 21 Kevin Barrett, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Sireli Naqelevuki.
Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 George Pisi, 12 James Downey, 11 Paul Diggin, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson (capt), 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 James Craig, 5 Christian Day, 4 Mark Sorenson, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Andy Long, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Teimana Harrison, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Tom May.