Preview: Sale v Harlequins

Date published: March 4 2016

Steve Diamond has made six changes to his side that drew to Saracens last weekend for their clash against the Harlequins at AJ Bell Stadium. 

Joe Ford starts his first Premiership game of the season, pairing up with Chris Cusiter at scrum-half. Diamond has opted to rotate all his front row with Eifion Lewis-Roberts, Neil Briggs & Brian Mujati starting this week.

Also, TJ Ioane returns to the back-row, after impressing off the bench last week to replace Cameron Neild.

Meanwhile, Harlequins have made five changes to the starting XV that played Wasps on Sunday at the Ricoh Arena.

Tim Visser returns from international duty and starts on the wing, with Matt Hopper named at outside centre. Hopper replaces Winston Stanley who is expected to be out for the remainder of the season from an injury sustained last Sunday.

In the forwards, Dave Ward and Kyle Sinckler start in the front row, with Nick Easter returning to number eight.

On the bench Will Collier is named, with Joe Marchant looking to make his first appearance of the season.

In other injury news Tim Swiel will undergo an operation on Monday on an ankle injury sustained last weekend. Swiel will also be out for the remainder of the season.

Form: Sharks made a statement last week after matching Premiership leaders Saracens in a pulsating 36-36 draw. It left Sale down in eighth, but they are just six points behind fourth-place Leicester Tigers and next face a Harlequins side who also have semi-final aspirations this year. Stringer and company are yet to be beaten at the AJ Bell in Premiership Rugby this season, while Harlequins have slipped to four away defeats in a row. Harlequins have only won one of their last six games in all tournaments though, when it comes to Sale, their sole defeat in their last ten encounters came back in November 2014.

The teams:

Sale: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Will Addison, 13 Sam James, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Tom Arscott, 10 Joe Ford, 9 Chris Cusiter,  8 Mark Easter, 7 David Seymour (c), 6 TJ Ioane, 5 Andrei Ostirkov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Jonathan Mills, 20 Cameron Neild, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Mark Jennings

Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Harry Sloan, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Mat Luamanu, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 George Merrick, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Mark Lambert

Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 James Chisholm, 21 Sam Egerton, 22 Joe Marchant, 23 Charlie Walker

Date: Saturday, March 5
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium, Salford
Kick-off:14:30 GMT
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell, Steve Lee
TMO: Trevor Fisher