Upcoming Match-ups

Bristol Bears vs Exeter Chiefs Picks and Odds

Robert Duff

by Robert Duff in Rugby

Jan 8, 2021 · 5:58 PM PST

Close-up image of a rugby ball
Photo by pallotron (creative commons 2.0).
  • The Exeter Chiefs are 6.5.point home favorites over the visiting Bristol Bears as the top two teams in the Gallagher Rugby Premiership clash on Saturday
  • Exeter and Bristol share top of the table with 4-1 records and 20 points
  • The Bears have one win against the Chiefs since 2009

The pace setters in the Gallagher Rugby Premiership are set to clash Saturday as the Exeter Chiefs play host to the Bristol Bears at Sandy Park. Both sides are 4-1 on the season and have collected 20 points apiece to share level top spot in the table.

Combining league and cup play, Exeter have lost two of three, but both defeats were away setbacks. That includes the Chiefs’ lone Premiership loss, a 34-5 drubbing at Wasps.

The Bears have won three straight. Their lone Premiership loss was also to Wasps, a 23-20 setback.

Exeter will take the pitch Saturday as solid 6.5-point home favorites.

Bristol Bears vs Exeter Chiefs Rugby Premiership Odds

Team Moneyline Spread Total
Bristol Bears +220 +6.5 (-106) OFF
Exeter Chiefs -295 -6.5 (-121) OFF

Odds taken Jan. 8th at DraftKings.

Game time Saturday is 11:30am EST.

Exeter Ahead On Point Differential

The Chiefs currently cling to top spot thanks to point differential. They own a +68 advanatge on the scoreboard, compared to the +35 of the Bears.

Exeter are defending Rugby Premiership winners. They’ve been champions or runners up in each of the past five seasons.

They are also the current European Rugby Championship Cup holders. At home, the Chiefs are virtually unbeatable. They’ve won six in a row at Sandy Park and 15 of 16 going back to last season.

COVID-19 Concerns For Chiefs

Exeter was forced to forfeit a December Champions Cup match at Toulouse following a COVID-19 outbreak. The coronavirus has again infected some of the team, but not enough to postpone Saturday’s match.

The club has not revealed how many positive tests there were, or how how many players were infected. All Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter would say was that the positive tests have made a minimal impact in his side.

Baxter is making a number of changes to the side that lost at Wasps, and he’s inserting some impressive talent into his side. England internationals Luke Cowan-Dickie, Harry Williams and Jonny Hill all return to the Exeter forward pack. Among the backs, fellow England international Henry Slade draws in at outside centre.

Australian Jack Walsh makes his first Premiership start at full-back. On the bench, Scotland international Sam Skinner returns for the first time since Exeter’s 42-0 win over Glasgow Warriors in the Heineken Champions Cup on Dec. 13.

Bears Doing The Hunting

In their previous match, Bristol knocked the Newcastle Falcons from the ranks of the unbeaten via a 27-19 count. Now they seek to topple Exeter from atop the table.

The Bears welcome England back row forward Ben Earl to the side for this huge match. His addition is among six changes to the squad that beat Newcastle.

Prop Jake Woolmore and hooker Bryan Byrne return from COVID-19 isolation. Kyle Sinckler starts at prop in an entirely revamped front row.

Luke Morahan earns his first start of the campaign at wing. Harry Randall returns at scrum-half.

Exeter Dominant At Home

Wasps ended Exeter’s eight-match unbeaten run in all competitions, excluding the COVID-caused forfeit to Toulouse. The Chiefs show one defeat at Sandy Park in any competition since February. That was a 22-19 loss to London Irish in September.

Bristol have won five of six contests and the Bears were victorious in their last two away matches. Bristol shows only one win against Exeter since 2009. However, that one triumph was a 20-17 victory in 2019 at Sandy Park.

Pick: Exeter Chiefs (-295).

Author Image