Exeter v Newcastle (Sat) – team news & preview

Vereniki Goneva in action for Newcastle Falcons

Aviva Premiership semi-final
Venue: Sandy Park Date: Saturday, 19 May Kick-off: 15:30 BST Coverage: Updates on BBC local radio and live scores on the BBC Sport website

Defending Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs make five changes for their semi-final against Newcastle.

Don Armand, Sam Simmonds, Henry Slade, Lachie Turner and Ian Whitten return after missing the trip to Harlequins.

Fly-half Toby Flood is back from a hand injury and hooker Kyle Cooper is also recalled as Newcastle make eight changes from their defeat by Wasps.

Sam Lockwood, Scott Wilson and Calum Green return to the pack as wingers Niki Goneva and Sinoti Sinoti start.

Exeter finished the regular season top of the table for the first time, achieving their best-ever points haul.

The Devon side are aiming to secure a place in the final for the third successive year, while fourth-placed Newcastle are in the play-offs for the first time following their best league finish since winning the Premiership title in 1998.

The winners will face either Saracens or Wasps in the final at Twickenham on Saturday, 26 May.

Exeter: Turner; Nowell, Slade, Hill, Woodburn; J Simmonds, White; Hepburn, Cowan-Dickie, Francis, Lees, Hill, Ewers, Armand (capt), S Simmonds.

Replacements: Yeandle, Moon, Holmes, Skinner, Waldrom, Townsend, Steenson, Whitten.

Newcastle: Hammersley; Goneva, Harris, Matavesi, Sinoti; Flood, Young; Lockwood, Cooper, S Wilson, Green, Olmstead, M Wilson (capt), Graham, Hogg.

Replacements: S Socino, Vickers, D Wilson, Witty, Latu, Takulua, JP Socino, Tait.

Referee: Matthew Carley.

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