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Leicester Tigers
Gallagher Premiership
May 18, 2024 at 3.05pm UK
Exeter Chiefs
Leicester Tigers
Exeter Chiefs
Hassell-Collins (20'), van Poortvliet (26'), Reffell (42'), Brown (52')
Feyi-Waboso (7'), Frost (57'), Vintcent (67')

Preview: Leicester Tigers vs. Exeter Chiefs - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Gallagher Premiership clash between Leicester Tigers and Exeter Chiefs, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The final match at Mattioli Woods Welford Road in the 2023-24 Gallagher Premiership season will be on Saturday afternoon when the Leicester Tigers will take on the Exeter Chiefs.

Tigers' playoff ambitions were brought to an end last week when they were beaten by the Sale Sharks, while Chiefs kept their top-four hopes alive with a crucial victory over Harlequins.

Match preview

Leicester Tigers' Ben Youngs scores against Northampton on September 13, 2020© Reuters

The 2023-24 season will go down as a poor one for Leicester Tigers, who lost the Premiership Cup final, were knocked out of the European Champions Cup in the second round, and are eighth in the Premiership table with one game remaining of Dan McKellar's first season in charge.

On one of the warmest evenings of the year, Leicester's hopes of reaching the Premiership playoffs were dashed as they suffered a 31-22 defeat to the Sale Sharks last week. That result confirmed Leicester's eighth-placed finish for the season, with Gloucester securing ninth place and Newcastle finishing in tenth.

In addition, their qualification for next season's Champions Cup is out of their hand and will be determined by the outcome of the Challenge Cup final. If Gloucester secure victory against the Sharks in the final, they will claim the spot despite the Tigers finishing eighth in this competition.

Leicester have now lost six of their last seven games in all competitions since action resumed in mid-March following the break in season to accommodate the Six Nations. Prior to that, they won nine of 12 games to give them a shot of a treble of trophies.

Under McKellar's guidance, the side has shown flashes of brilliance interspersed with moments of inconsistency throughout the season. While it is challenging to predict which Tigers side will pitch up on Saturday, the hosts will undoubtedly aim to conclude the competition with a victory.

Exeter Chiefs' Henry Slade in action with Sale Sharks' Tom Curry and Jean-Luc du Preez on June 12, 2021© Reuters

Meanwhile, Exeter Chiefs are still very much alive in the playoff battle and will head into this weekend's fixture with a chance to make the top four, having worked hard to match Harlequins' pace in the first half last week before leaving them in their wake in the second period of their week 17 clash.

A few weeks ago, Chiefs' director of rugby Rob Baxter openly admitted that he did not anticipate his youthful team to contend for the playoffs this season. However, they have since gained significant momentum and now face the task of defeating Leicester while hoping for favourable results elsewhere to break into the top-four equation.

Against Quins, Exeter's back row displayed remarkable strength, particularly with standout performances from Ethan Roots and Greg Fisilau. Additionally, the Chiefs, who dominated the second half with a 37-5 scoreline, benefitted from the electrifying performance of Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, who contributed two tries and numerous impactful linebreaks.

With that result, the Chiefs can get to 55 points with a bonus point win over Tigers, and they, along with Bristol Bears, and Harlequins are all banking on fourth-placed Sale Sharks losing at Saracens.

All the while, the battle to be crowned top points scorer in Gallagher Premiership Rugby in the 2023-24 season is set to go down to the wire, and Henry Slade is in pole position, having notched 26 points at the weekend. That took him to 145 points, including five tries, which is the most of any player in the top five of the standings.

Leicester Tigers Gallagher Premiership form:

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Exeter Chiefs Gallagher Premiership form:

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Team News

World Cup winner Jasper Wiese will be playing his final game for Leicester Tigers this weekend. The 28-year-old back-rower has made 78 appearances in his four seasons at the club and is believed to be on his way to playing in Japan next season.

Hanro Liebenberg is expected to continue to lead the matchday squad, with captain Julian Montoya out injured. Charlie Clare should starts in place of the Argentine in the front row alongside Francois van Wyk and Dan Cole.

Earlier this week, Exeter Chiefs confirmed that winger Rory O'Loughlin has been forced to retire due to injury. The Irishman suffered a serious shoulder injury at the start of the season, and despite rehabilitation and attempts to get back to playing, he has been advised to call it quits.

In addition, Scotland prop Fin Richardson will follow the likes of Alec Hepburn and Patrick Schickerling in departing Exeter this summer for the URC, as confirmed by the club earlier this week.

Leicester Tigers predicted starting lineup: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Jamie Shillcock, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Jack van Poortvliet, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Hanro Liebenberg (c), 5 Harry Wells, 4 George Martin, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Charlie Clare, 1 Francois van Wyk

Replacements: 16 Nic Dolly, 17 James Whitcombe, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Finn Carnduff, 20 Olly Cracknell, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Phil Cokanasiga, 23 Solomone Kata

Exeter Chiefs predicted starting lineup: 15 Dan John, 14 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Joe Hawkins, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Tom Cairns, 8 Greg Fisilau, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Ethan Roots, 5 Dafydd Jenkins (c), 4 Jack Dunne, 3 Marcus Street, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Scott Sio

Replacements: 16 Max Norey, 17 Billy Keast, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Christ Tshiunza, 20 Ross Vintcent, 21 Niall Armstrong, 22 Will Haydon-Wood, 23 Zack Wimbush

SM words green background

We say: Leicester Tigers 17-26 Exeter Chiefs

The Leicester Tigers cannot reach the playoffs from the position they are in and will see out this match as a mere formality. While Exeter's away form is not the greatest this season, we feel they will manage one final push to try and break into the top four.

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