Preview: Leeds Carnegie v Sale Sharks

Date published: October 21 2010

Leeds Carnegie have four changes to their line-up that lost to Stade Francais for this Friday's Aviva Premiership clash with Sale.

Leeds Carnegie have four changes to their side that lost to Stade Francais for Friday's Aviva Premiership clash with Sale at Headingley Carnegie.

Michael Stephenson reverts to the wing in place of Semi Tadulala to allow Ceiron Thomas to start at full-back whilst Scott Mathie, who scored against Sale at the end of last term, returns at scrum-half.

In the forwards, Kearnan Myall comes in for Jon Pendlebury at blindside flanker whilst Daniel Browne is at number eight ahead of Rhys Oakley.

There is some good news for Leeds Carnegie on the bench, with Phil Swainston, Danny Paul and Scott Barrow all returning from injury.

Leeds are currently four points adrift at the bottom, having claimed a solitary losing bonus from appointments with Bath, Gloucester, Saracens, Leicester and London Irish.

But Head Coach Neil Back believes the 22-13 Amlin Challenge Cup loss to tournament favourites Stade last Sunday has assisted Leeds' cause.

“Looking back to last week's game, a real positive for us was the fact that we created lots of opportunities in what was probably our best performance of the season so far,” he said.

“The fact that we performed so well did not come as a surprise to anyone within our environment.

“When we sat down as a management team to plan for this season we decided that the best way forward for this club was to reduce the number of players in our squad, but increase the quality.

“That was a calculated gamble because we knew that we could not afford injuries to our squad if we wanted to maintain our quality.

“Unfortunately, over the first five rounds of the Premiership, because we have had to look after the players and make sure that we don't lose anyone for the weekend, we have been unable to train with the combination of intensity and physicality that we would have liked.

“That has meant at times that our decision-making under pressure has not been where it needs to be.

“However, over the past two weeks we have been getting people back from injury and we have been able to step things up in training and we have seen the result of that, not just our last two games in the Challenge Cup, but also our visit to London Irish in our previous Premiership game.”

Meanwhile, Sale have named young prop Henry Thomas on their bench with the England U20 representative set make his debut if he is called upon.

Neil Briggs leads the side from hooker alongside Andrew Sheridan and Karena Wihongi while scrum-half Will Cliff accompanies Charlie Hodgson.

“Leeds Carnegie are looking for a first Premiership win to kick start their season, and we've picked a squad to compete,” said coach Mike Brewer.

“Leeds have a pretty consistent set piece – good scrum and lineout. Against Stade, I was quite impressed how they kept ball in hand, and made a couple of key breaks.”

Form: Leeds achieved a first ever victory over the Sharks in their most recent meeting at Edgeley Park in February. The Yorkshiremen have managed just the one victory so far this season, 23-9, in Bucharest in the European Challenge Cup two weeks ago. Leeds have not won in Aviva Premiership Rugby since their 12-10 victory against relegated Worcester on 25 April. Sale Sharks have won their last two games in the European Challenge Cup against Spanish side El Salvador and Italian outfit Petrarca Padova, but in the Premiership the Sharks have won just once since the opening day: 21-17 at home to Harlequins in round three. Sale have not won away from home in the Premiership since they last visited Headingley Carnegie on 22 November 2009, with a 24-17 scoreline.

The teams:

Leeds Carnegie: 15 Ceiron Thomas, 14 Michael Stephenson, 13 James Tincknell, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Lee Blackett, 10 Lachlan Mackay, 9 Scott Mathie, 8 Daniel Browne, 7 Hendre Fourie, 6 Kearnan Myall, 5 Marco Wentzel (capt), 4 Tom Denton, 3 Juan Gomez, 2 Steve Thompson, 1 Gareth Hardy.
Replacements: 16 Andy Titterrell, 17 Miguel Alonso, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Danny Paul, 20 Rhys Oakley, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Scott Barrow, 23 Henry Faafili.

Sale Sharks: 15 Paul Williams, 14 Ben Cohen, 13 Nick Macleod, 12 Anitelea Tuilagi, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Sisaro Koyamaibole, 7 Neil McMillan, 6 Carl Fearns, 5 Nic Rouse, 4 Wame Lewaravu, 3 Karena Wihongi, 2 Neil Briggs (capt), 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Aston Croall, 17 Henry Thomas, 18 Jack Forster, 19 Kristian Ormsby, 20 Chris Brightwell, 21 Chris Leck, 22 Chris Bell, 23 Tom Brady.

Date: Friday, October 22
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Venue: Headingley Carnegie
Referee: Jérôme Garces (France)