Preview: Sale Sharks v Scarlets

Date published: January 20 2017

Sale Sharks have named their side to take on Scarlets in Round Six of the European Rugby Champions Cup at the AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday.

Steve Diamond has made five changes to the side that lost last weekend to Toulon. Kieran Longbottom comes in at tighthead prop, making his first start since October 1. George Nott and Andrei Ostrikov pair up in the second row, replacing Jonathan Mills and Bryn Evans.

Cameron Neild comes into the back row at blindside flanker, with Magnus Lund switching to the openside. There is one change in the backline, with AJ MacGinty starting at fly-half, Sam James taking a place on the bench.

Ahead of their final European game, Diamond said: “We are trying to build some more momentum after promising displays at Harlequins and Toulon and I was pleased with the lads who played at Toulon who want to stake a claim for a place in the regular matchday 23. We now need to keep the momentum going for the next three week’s before we return to Premiership action in February.”

Form: The European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-finals may be out of reach for Sale Sharks and Scarlets, but both sides are determined to finish on a high. Scarlets’ hopes were dashed in cruel fashion when Chris Ashton salvaged a 22-22 draw for Saracens on Sunday. But wins over three-time European champions Toulon and Sale at home have given the Scarlets supporters reason to be hopeful for the future. Saracens and Toulon will shootout for top spot in Pool 3 at Allianz Park, while Sale and Scarlets battle for pride. Sale are yet to earn a Champions Cup victory this season, but led Toulon at the Stade Mayol at half-time last time out. The Sharks have never beaten the Welsh side.

The teams:

Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Paolo Odogwu, 13 Will Addison (c), 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Josh Charnley, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Laurence Pearce, 7 Magnus Lund, 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 George Nott, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 James Flynn, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Jonathan Mills, 20 Ben Curry, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Sam James, 23 Tom Curry

Scarlets: 15 Aled Thomas, 14 DTH van der Merwe, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 John Barclay 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Tom Price, 20 Will Boyde, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Tom Williams, 23 Steff Hughes

Date: Saturday, January 21
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Time: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Maxime Chalon (France), Jean-Luc Rebollal (France)
TMO: Eric Briquet-Campin (France)

COMMENTS