Preview: Sale Sharks v Saracens

Date published: November 18 2016

Sale Sharks are boosted by the return of several key players for their Premiership clash with Saracens at the AJ Bell Stadium on Sunday.

Captain Josh Beaumont, Will Addison and AJ MacGinty all return to the starting XV while Sam Tuitupou makes his first start of the season, having returned to the side as a substitute last weekend in the defeat at Bristol in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

Rob Webber will make his home debut, if he comes off the bench. Mike Haley also returns after spending two weeks training with England.

Looking forward to the game  Sharks Director of Rugby Steve Diamond said: “Saracens are the best side in the world. They are well run, well managed, and well coached, plus they look to be a good set of lads. They win most of their games so it’ll be a tough outing for us. I think, as we are a better side than we were last year, but so are they. We are playing top opposition, and we usually raise our game for these games.”

Meanwhile, Alex Lozowski has been named to start for Saracens at fly-half, with the England squad member returning to club duty after being released from Eddie Jones’ England camp earlier this week. Lozowski will be partnered by Richard Wigglesworth in the halves with the former Sale Sharks ace lining up against his former club in the number nine jersey.

Brad Barritt will skipper the side from inside centre and he will be joined by Marcelo Bosch in the Saracens midfield. Andrew Fenby will make his Premiership debut for Saracens from full-back after two impressive outings during the Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign and he will be joined by Chris Wyles (left wing) and Mike Ellery (right wing).

In the front-row, Schalk Brits starts at hooker alongside Richard Barrington (loosehead prop) and Juan Figallo (tighthead prop). In the second-row, Michael Rhodes will partner Jim Hamilton. Kelly Brown starts at blindside flanker with Schalk Burger starting at openside. Jackson Wray will start at number eight.

Form: Sale Sharks have lost only one of their last four Premiership matches: 3-30 at Bath in round 6. The only side that has beaten Sale at AJ Bell Stadium in the Premiership since April 2015 has been Gloucester – doing so twice. Saracens have lost just one of their last fourteen Premiership fixtures: 10-17 at Harlequins on September 24. Saracens were defeated 32-36 in their most recent away game at Gloucester in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, and have not lost successive games on their travels since January 2015. Saracens have lost just one of their last ten encounters with Sale in the Premiership: 10-14 at AJ Bell Stadium in February 2015, but have not been victorious at the stadium in the tournament since February 2014.

The teams:

Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Will Addison, 13 Sam James, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Paolo Odogwu, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Josh Beaumont (c), 7 David Seymour, 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 James Flynn, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 TJ Ioane, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Mark Jennings, 23 Tom Arscott

Saracens: 15 Andrew Fenby, 14 Mike Ellery, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Mike Rhodes, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 Scott Spurling, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Mark Flanagan, 20 Joel Conlon, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Matt Gallagher

Date: Sunday, November 20
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Kick-off: 13:00 GMT
Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell and Jack Makepeace
TMO: David Sainsbury