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Exeter hope to carry over cup form

Exeter will aim to feed off the euphoria of their LV= Cup final success when they resume Aviva Premiership business on Sunday.

The Chiefs face a Welford Road appointment with Leicester seven days after beating Tigers' east midlands rivals Northampton to secure English rugby's first domestic silverware of the season.

And assistant coach Ali Hepher knows Exeter must start collecting points in pursuit of a top-six Premiership finish and European qualification next season.

Exeter are currently nine points behind sixth-placed Sale Sharks with only six games left - trips to Leicester, Worcester and Newcastle, plus home games against Gloucester, Sale and Harlequins.

"We always knew the fixture schedule was going to be tough, but we've had a good few weeks playing at an intensive level of rugby and it has prepared us really well for the weekend," Hepher said.

"We are in good form, we're winning and the grounds are firming up, so hopefully we can attack the game as we want to.

"We have produced two top quality cup performances (semi-final and final), and now we need to take that into the league because the reality is every week is going to be a cup final for us.

"What we have to do following on from last Sunday is kick-on and get some points in the league and get ourselves moving back up the table."

Hepher, though, is well aware of the sizeable challenge Exeter face against a Leicester side well on course to secure a place in this season's title play-offs.

"You don't have to look far to see the quality they have," he added. "They have threats all over the place.

"They are a tough side, especially at home, but it's a great challenge for us. We have got to pick up as many points as we can to put pressure on those sides above us.

"Ultimately, it's out of our hands in some respects, but what we can control is our level of performance and the quality we put out on the pitch. Last weekend it was real top-quality stuff."

England wing Jack Nowell makes an immediate return from RBS 6 Nations duty to Premiership action for Exeter, while hooker Jack Yeandle replaces an injured Chris Whitehead and centre Iain Whitten features instead of Jason Shoemark.

Leicester welcome back fit-again England centre Manu Tuilagi for his first home appearance in five months - he teams up with Anthony Allen in midfield - and scrum-half Ben Youngs makes his 100th Tigers start.


From Belfast Telegraph