Preview: Gloucester v Sale

Date published: April 20 2012

Sale head to Kingsholm determined to hold onto sixth spot, which will ensure they qualify for Heineken Cup rugby next season.

Sale head to Kingsholm on Saturday determined to hold onto sixth spot which will ensure they qualify for Heineken Cup rugby next season.

The Sharks are currently in sixth, two points clear of their hosts with just two games remaining in the season.

Steve Diamond has made three changes to the side that beat Bath last time out. Among the backs, Will Addison comes in for Johnny Leota at outside centre while Dwayne Peel is replaced at scrum-half by Cillian Willis.

In the forwards, flanker James Gaskell makes way for Mark Easter.

Diamond is well aware of the importance of the game and the effort that will be required to secure the win.

“Kingsholm is always a difficult place to visit. A win would be the 'icing on the cake' for everybody at our club, but we know we'll have to produce our best performance of the season,” he said.

The Cherry and Whites have had a difficult week following the departure of boss Bryan Redpath and forwards coach Carl Hogg will take charge for Saturday's game.

Hogg has made three changes for the encounter, with one switch injury-enforced. Skipper Luke Narraway is sidelined with a tight hamstring which is obviously a blow, but Gloucester have a more than adequate replacement in the form of Scotland international Alasdair Strokosch.

In the midfield, Tim Molenaar comes in for Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu while at scrum-half Dave Lewis replaces Nick Runciman.

Hogg is under no illusions as to how important the clash is for the club and is hopeful that his men can give the fans something to cheer about after a difficult period.

“There's a Heineken Cup place up for grabs and we've got to look forward as a group and recognize that this is our last opportunity together at home at Kingsholm to make a statement,” he said.

“We've underperformed over the last few weeks, there's no question about that. But we have an opportunity on Saturday to salvage some pride and some dignity on Saturday and that's key for us.

“We respect Sale. They're a quality team with quality players. But Saturday is about this group of players and how we want to be remembered.

“We've let our supporters down over the past two or three weeks and we're looking to put that right.”

Rugby Union betting odds

Form: Gloucester Rugby have slipped to four consecutive reversals in Aviva Premiership Rugby but have not lost five in a row in the Premiership since early 2001. Gloucester have not lost three in a row at Kingsholm since April 2005. Sale Sharks ended a three match losing run with their 16-9 victory at home to Bath on Friday. The Sharks' solo away win in the Premiership since September was 16-13 at Bath on 3 December. The last nineteen encounters between the two clubs in all competitions have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst Sale have not been victorious at Kingsholm since a 19-18 victory on 26 August 2000.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Jonny May, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Tim Molenaar, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Alasdair Strokosch, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Peter Buxton (capt), 5 Alex Brown, 4 Jim Hamilton, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Dan Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Will James, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Ryan Mills, 23 Tom Voyce.

Sale: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Will Addison, 12 Sam Tuitupou (capt.), 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Cillian Willis, 8 Andy Powell, 7 David Seymour, 6 Mark Easter, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Andrei Ostrikov, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Joe Ward, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Lee Imiolek, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Tom Holmes, 20 Tommy Taylor, 21 Scott Mathie, 22 Andrew Higgins, 23 Charlie Amesbury.

Date: Saturday, April 21
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 15:00 (14:00 GMT)
Referee: David Rose
Assistant referees: Peter Huckle, Andrew Pearce