Hello and welcome to our live text commentary of this Premiership encounter between Exeter Chiefs and Bristol Bears. It’s a south west regional derby – there are plenty of those in this competition now – and should be a compelling game.
Of course, the unavoidable story of this week in English domestic rugby has revolved around Saracens and the salary cap. Having lost to Mark McCall’s side in the last two Premiership finals, Exeter have more reason than most to feel aggrieved.
This is what Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter said earlier this week:
“We’ve actually just cleared the decks a little bit in our meeting today. I just sat in front of all the players and said ‘What do you think of all this salary cap stuff?’
“At first, they all looked at me a bit strangely, but I know they’ve all been talking about it and I know they will all feel differently about it all.
“Some will feel sorry for themselves as they think things haven’t been all that fair. Others will be angry and others will be looking forward to playing Saracens again.
“Across the board, there are all kinds of emotions, but what I’ve just said to them all is let’s make sure we clarify what we are all about. We are a club that have an important Premiership game this Sunday. We’ve worked very hard to be here and this is what should occupy all of our energy.
“As I said to them all, I think it’s good not to run away from interesting conversations the lads are going to have among themselves, simply because by doing that it now allows us to get out and train really well for Bristol.”
It will be extremely interesting to gauge the reaction of the hosts at Sandy Park, because Bristol will not die wondering.