Braves side to face Northampton
By Mark Stevens
Chrysander Botha is targeting silverware this afternoon as the Exeter Braves look to lift the Aviva Premiership A League title for the second time.
Having comprehensively brushed aside Newcastle Falcons 48-15 in last Monday’s semi-final at Sandy Park, Ricky Pellow’s side will again have home advantage when they face Northampton Wanderers (3:30pm).
The Namibian international lines up in a Braves side that shows just one change to that of a week ago. Prop Alex Brown comes into the starting line-up at tight-head as previous incumbent Carl Rimmer was used as a replacement in yesterday’s Premiership victory over Wasps.
Brown will pack down in an experienced front-row that also includes Tongan hooker Elvis Taione and long-serving prop Brett Sturgess, who is poised to make what is likely to be his last appearance at Sandy Park following a nine-year stint in Devon.
The fact Sturgess is going up against his former club makes the occasion all the more important for him and Exeter team-mates, all of whom say they are determined to ensure the popular forward gets the perfect send-off.
“The boys were really hyped running into the semi-final, there was a lot of emotion running into this game, especially for guys like Sturge,” explained Botha. “It could have been his last game here at the club, so we had plenty to fight for and one to make sure he had one more game.”
In a dominant display from start to finish against the Falcons, the Braves ran in eight tries on the night with full-back Botha helping to lead the way with three of them.
“It was a good performance, we set the tone early on,” said Botha. “I was really happy to score three tries, it’s not that often you get to do that, but all the boys played well and we deserved our win.”
Roared on by a crowd of 2,500 last Monday, club officials are expecting an even bigger attendance for the visit of Northampton, who themselves defeated defending A League champions Saracens Storm at Franklin’s Gardens a week ago.
Botha says having that kind of support is key for his side, who have again prepared well as they look to lift the A League title for the first time since 2012.
“We’ve prepped well again,” added Botha. “As we always say here, we’ve got a squad of 50 off players, all of whom are working hard week in, week out to get that one common goal.
“I know guys like Sturge (pictured) will be really pumped for the final, he’s been here a long while and he’s what they call one of the originals. We call him ‘John Graft’ so it will nice to send him off with a victory.”
Season ticket holders, 1905 and Gold Card members can gain FREE entry to today’s game, while admission for all others is £10 for adults, £5 for Students/Under-16s.
There will be limited pay and display parking on site at Sandy Park on a first come, first served basis, after which you are advised to use either Digby or Sowton 30. Food and drink will be available in a number of bars around the stadium
The West Grandstand and East Terrace will be open for the game, again grandstand seats are unreserved.
BRAVES SIDE TO FACE NORTHAMPTON WANDERERS
15 Chrysander Botha
14 Max Bodilly
13 Michele Campagnaro
12 Tom Hendrickson
11 Matt Jess
10 Will Hooley
9 Haydn Thomas
1 Brett Sturgess
2 Elvis Taione
3 Alex Brown
4 Ollie Atkins
5 Lewis Stevenson
6 Tom Johnson
7 Ben White
8 Kai Horstmann
16 Shaun Malton
17 Jake Woolmore
18 Jack Owlett
19 Sam Skinner
20 Sam Simmonds
21 Stu Townsend
22 Pete Laverick
23 Byron McGuigan
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