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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Exeter and Saracens look set for tight battle for top spot

Waldrom could be the man to make breakthrough

Thomas Waldrom is a tryscoring threat for Exeter
1 of 1

Aviva Premiership
BT Sport 1, 3pm Sunday

The two sides battling it out for top spot go head to head, and neither side has looked convincing of late.

Exeter finally ended a three-match losing run in the Premiership with a victory over Northampton last week, but they left it until the last minute to claim the winning try against a Saints side struggling for form.

Sarries had briefly replaced long-time leaders the Chiefs at the top of the table, but a surprise home defeat to Leicester last weekend leaves them in second.

It used to be that Saracens were one of the hardest hit sides during the autumn internationals and Six Nations, but even with big names such as Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and the Vunipola brothers missing, there is plenty of calibre in their line-up.

Alex Lozowski, also part of Eddie Jones's England squad, takes Farrell's place at fly-half. British & Irish Lions lock George Kruis also starts and there are internationals throughout the side. One area where Sarries look thin, though is on the bench 

Exeter are bolstered up front with Tomas Francis back from the Wales camp and fellow prop Jack Yeandle fit enough to make the replacements, while Sam Simmonds is also on the bench after picking up an injury playing for England in the Six Nations.

This looks set to be a physical, hard-fought clash between teams focused on doing the basics well after a wake-up call in recent weeks. Exeter coach Rob Baxter said this week his players had looked "edgy" against Northampton and will have been stressing all week the need for smart execution.

One area where the Chiefs are especially well drilled is in their lineout, and their catch and drive has been a constant source of tries. Any penalties kicked to the corner give them an opportunity, and Thomas Waldrom is the man most often at the back of it.

Among today's other matches is the clash between Harlequins and Bath, postponed from Friday, while  Wasps give up 17 points at home to London Irish and Worcester get a four-point start against Leicester.

T Waldrom to score a try in Exeter v Saracens
1pt 2-1 bet365

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One area where the Chiefs are especially well drilled is in their lineout, and their catch and drive has been a constant source of tries
E.W. Terms
Sky bet