Gloucester welcome Exeter to the Kingsholm Stadium as the Aviva Premiership returns next weekend. Both sides are now seasoned Premiership sides and will be looking to lay down a marker as the new season gets underway. Gloucester are coming off the back of a disappointing Challenge Cup loss to Stade Francais in their last game of last season. Meanwhile, Exeter will be hoping to retain their Premiership crown which they surprisingly won last season.
Not many picked out Exeter as potential champions last year, so it will be interesting to see how they perform now that the element of surprise is no longer a factor. Gloucester will be hoping to build on their impressive form in Europe’s secondary competition and become this year’s surprising champions.
Gloucester finished in a disappointing ninth place during the 2016/17 season. They will be hoping to be among the Champions Cup places, rather than flirting with relegation, this time around. They only won seven of their 22 league games last season.
The fact they were in such a lowly position, but had a points differential of –4 indicates that Gloucester are a side that have a decent level in attack. When they do lose, they don’t lose by much.
Exeter were the surprise team of last season’s Aviva Premiership, winning the title at the expense of favorites Wasps. The finished second in the regular season but pushed through in the semi-final and final.
That semi-final against Saracens was a tense affair, with Exeter coming out as 18-16 victors. It showed a side with real heart and one which does not take losing lightly. They won 15 of their regular season games last year, so they would be expecting to be back among the best again this time around.
Exeter Chiefs manager Rob Baxter reckons his side could be a victim of their own success after last year’s amazing season. He said: “I think it would be very easy for the success of last season to have some negative effects, because once you draw breath it’s hard to get yourself going again,” he added.
“I think that happened a little bit at the start of last season. We managed to address it, [but] I would hope we don’t have to do something radical to try to address it this year, because you can’t always get things right.”
It would be very easy to go along with that and say that Exeter will become complacent in light of their victories. However, that would be overlooking a side that played with incredible intelligence and guile all through last year’s Aviva Premiership season.
Betway Review has them as ½ favourites to come out on top and in truth, we can’t see anything other than another victory for an Exeter Chiefs side which continues to go from strength to strength. They will be just good for a Glouceter team that are improving, but not quite good enough just yet.