sport

Exeter v Northampton preview

Exeter will enjoy home advantage in Sunday's sell-out LV= Cup final against Northampton Saints at Sandy Park (kick-off 3pm).

The Chiefs reached the final by ending their 'Bath hoodoo' last weekend, with a 22-19 victory to beat their West Country rivals for the first time since 1978.

Rob Baxter's side are now just a game away from claiming arguably the biggest prize in the club's history, following their memorable promotion-winning year of 2010.

The last time they won a cup was in 1996 - when former player Baxter himself held aloft the Devon Senior Cup for the eighth season in a row.

He knows it will be a tough ask against the in-form Saints, who remained on course to win this silverware last claimed in 2010 with a 26-7 victory over Saracens.

Baxter told the club's official website that while Northampton will be favourites, the Chiefs have got home advantage.

"I think it's going to be a great game, and I'm happy with that because normally good games go our way. When a lot of rugby is played, sometimes we're the ones who come through it.

"The home factor has to be helpful. To say that it's not nice to be playing at home in a cup final is ridiculous. However, what we have to do - a bit like when we play in the Premiership or any other game here - is to play in a way that gets the crowd behind us.

"Yes, it should be a partisan crowd and yes Northampton will bring a good crowd with them, but we should be able to do something that gets the crowd behind us and makes it a special occasion for us."

George Pisi was the three-try hero as Jim Mallinder's men overturned a 7-6 half-time deficit to overcome Saracens in their semi-final at Franklin's Gardens.

The win was the Saints' 13th in a row in all competitions - including a narrow 17-16 victory over the Chiefs at Sandy Park in February which saw them go to the top of the Aviva Premiership table.

Sunday's clash is their third LV= Cup final in five years, and defence coach Alan Dickens said the players must focus.

"We're treating it as a normal game, going through the processes that we do every week," he said. "But you also have the intensity of it being a final, so I'm sure the boys will rise to that during the match.

"It is a must-win game, but we concentrate on ourselves and if we do that we'll put ourselves in the best possible decision to get the result that we desire."

Exeter are boosted by the return of prop Ben Moon, with Carl Rimmer dropping to the bench. Jason Shoemark and Fetu'u Vainikolo also come into the team in place of Ian Whitten (calf) and Tom James (knee), while on the bench Romana Graham takes over from the injured James Hanks, Don Armand is preferred to James Scaysbrook and Sireli Naqelevuki offers back-up out wide.

Northampton have made eight changes. James Wilson and Jamie Elliott coming in at centre and wing respectively, and Stephen Myler swapping with Will Hooley at fly half, who drops to the bench. Upfront there are returns to the starting line-up for props Alex Waller and Salesi Ma'afu, lock Samu Manoa and back rowers Calum Clark and GJ Van Velze. Ethan Waller, Tom Mercey, James Craig and Ben Nutley all begin the game as replacements, along with Ross McMillan, Alex Day and Fa'atoina Autagavaia.

Exeter: 15 Arscott, 14 Vainikolo,13 Dollman, 12 Shoemark, 11 Jess, 10 Slade, 9 Lewis, 1 Moon, 2 Whitehead, 3 Tui, 4 Mumm, 5 Welch, 6 Ewers, 7 White, 8 Horstmann. Replacements: 16 Cowan-Dickie, 17 Rimmer, 18 Brown, 19 Graham, 20 Armand, 21 Thomas, 22 Steenson, 23 Naqelevuki.

Northammpton 15 Foden, 14 K Pisi, 13 G Pisi, 12 Wilson, 11 Elliott, 10 Myler, 9 Fotuali'i, 1 A Waller, 2 Haywood, 3 Ma'afu, 4 Manoa, 5 C Day, 6 Clark, 7 Dowson, 8 Van Velze. Replacements: 16 McMillan, 17 E Waller, 18 Mercey, 19 Craig, 20 Nutley, 21 A Day, 22 Hooley, 23 Autagavaia.

You can see all the action live on Sky Sports 3HD from 2.30pm on Sunday.