Preview: Sale v Dragons

Date published: January 20 2016

Sale Sharks have named their side to take on the Dragons in their winner-takes-all Challenge Cup clash at the AJ Bell Stadium on Thursday.

Josh Beaumont captains the side once again, as Steve Diamond makes four changes to the side that beat Pau last Friday, with Peter Stringer, Sam James, Eifion Lewis-Roberts and Brian Mujati coming in. Johnny Leota will be making his 100th appearance for the team.

Speaking ahead of the game, Diamond said: "We know that the Dragons have been the most consistent side of the group, and they are similar to us in their style of rugby. They are abrasive, so we've got to put in a good performance and win, and if we do that we get a home quarter-final."

Meanwhile, the Dragons made one change to their side as captain Thomas Rhys Thomas returns at hooker, dependent on his disciplinary hearing decision on Wednesday.

The Welsh region have already qualified for the Challenge Cup quarter-finals, but this match sees the Men of Gwent tackle Sale Sharks for a home knockout game.

The back three remains unchanged with full-back Carl Meyer getting the nod alongside last weekend's try scorers Ashton Hewitt and Hallam Amos. The centre pairing of Adam Hughes and Adam Warren get the nod from Dragons director of rugby, Lyn Jones while last weekend's man of the match Jason Tovey also retains his place at fly-half alongside scrum-half Sarel Pretorius.

The front-row sees skipper Thomas move from the bench to join props Phil Price and Brok Harris. The second-row sees Cory Hill join Rynard Landman while the back-row consists of flankers Lewis Evans and Nic Cudd alongside number eight Taulupe Faletau.

The teams:

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

Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Ashton Hewitt, 13 Adam Hughes, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans, 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Cory Hill, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Thomas Rhys Thomas (c), 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Ed Jackson, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Angus O'Brien, 23 Nick Scott.

Date: Thursday, January 21
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson (Ireland), Sean Gallagher (Ireland)
TMO: Seamus Flannery (Ireland)