Preview: Sale Sharks v Newcastle Falcons

Date published: November 27 2015

Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond has recalled fly-half Danny Cipriani to his side that will host Newcastle Falcons on Saturday.

Cipriani joins Dan Braid, Vadim Cobilas and Sam Tuitupou in coming into the side, plus Eifion Lewis Roberts is set to make his first appearance of the season, having picked up an injury in pre-season.

"Newcastle Falcons are a good team, and the Aviva Premiership is much stiffer and harder this season, so the points they haven't got along with London Irish, belie their abilities so we can't take them for granted.

"We've got to make sure we've got to play as best as we can to beat them," said Diamond.

Meanwhile, Marcus Watson makes his first Premiership start for the Falcons in Saturday's fixture.

Newcastle show five changes to the starting line-up that brushed aside Enisei STM as a wealth of experience returns to the side, with four new faces in the backs and one in the pack adding 84 international caps to the team.

The round five match against Diamond's side sees the return of the tried and tested centre partnership of Adam Powell and Juan Pablo Socino as they line up together for the first time this season, while out wide, Italian international Giamba Venditti and Watson take the wing berths.

Watson makes his first Premiership start off the back of a blistering performance against Enisei in the European Challenge Cup that saw him show a full array of skills on his way to four tries, for twenty of his team's 55 points on the afternoon.

His performance was one of many to catch the eye and provide the Falcons with a timely lift ahead of the resumption of Premiership games.

In the half-backs, Michael Young continues in his position at scrum-half while Mike Delany returns to the fly-half shirt that he vacated during the European fortnight.

After a rock solid showing against a vaunted Russian pack, the Falcons eight sees only one change this weekend, with Nili Latu coming into the side in the place of Dan Temm.

Latu's inclusion does see the rest of the back-row make positional switches, as he takes over the number eight shirt, with Mark Wilson moving across to the blindside flank and captain Will Welch returning to his more familiar openside spot.

On the replacements bench, Scott Lawson, Alex Rogers and Taione Vea continue to provide the front-row replacements, while further international class is available with Mouritz Botha and Ally Hogg completing the forward options.

Ruki Tipuna will again provide the opportunity for a further injection of tempo in the 21 shirt, while Tom Catterick and Chris Harris also lie in wait and ready to make an impact when called upon.

Form: Sale Sharks’ last six Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst their only loss at AJ Bell Stadium in Premiership Rugby in 2015 was 23-25 to Harlequins in April. Newcastle Falcons have lost all four matches so far this season in Aviva Premiership Rugby since their 37-21 victory at home to Harlequins in round 22 last season. The Falcons only win on the road in the tournament since October 2013 came at London Welsh in 11 October 2014. Sale have won their last three Aviva Premiership Rugby contests with Newcastle since the Falcons’ 1514 victory at AJ Bell Stadium in September 2013.

The teams:

Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Tom Arscott, 13 Sam James, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Will Addison, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Chris Cusiter, 8 Josh Beaumont, 7 Magnus Lund, 6 Dan Braid (c), 5 Jonathan Mills, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Cameron Neild, 17 Eifion Lewis Roberts, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Andrei Ostrikov, 20 TJ Ioane, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Mark Jennings.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Adam Powell, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Michael Young, 8 Nili Latu, 7 Will Welch, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Taione Vea, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Ally Hogg, 21 Ruki Tipuna, 22 Tom Catterick, 23 Chris Harris.

Date: Saturday 28 November
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Peter Allan, Robin Goodliffe
TMO: Trevor Fisher