Preview: Sale v Montpellier

Date published: April 7 2016

Steve Diamond has named his Sale Sharks side to take on French giants Montpellier in their Challenge Cup quarter-final showdown on Friday.

Sale go into the game following back-to-back wins against Leicester Tigers and London Irish. They are undefeated in their last three matches against Montpellier in the Challenge Cup, winning two. Their only loss to the visitors was back in 1997.

Diamond has made six changes to the side that beat London Irish last weekend. Magnus Lund captains the side, with Johnny Leota, Tom Brady, Ross Harrison, Vadim Cobilas, and TJ Ioane coming into the starting line-up.

"They are one of the super French sides," said Diamond.

"They are full of South African and French internationals, second in the table and will be formidable opposition.

"The bigger the opposition for us, our team responds really well, so bring them on and let's give them a Northern Welcome.

"I'm looking forward to it, it should be a great night – hopefully we'll get a big crowd to watch a great night of European Rugby."

Meanwhile, Jesse Mogg returns at full-back for Montpellier with Benjamin Fall moving to the left wing to take the place of Marvin O'Connor.

Wiaan Liebenberg will don the seven jersey as Akapusi Qera shifts to number eight, while Thibault Privat gets the nod at lock ahead of Jacques du Plessis.

Springbok internationals Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis both start in the front-row alongside Mikheil Nariashvili.

Form: Sale Sharks are undefeated in their last three matches against Montpellier in the Challenge Cup (W2, D1), their only loss to the Top 14 club came in 1997. Sale have won eight of their 11 knockout matches in the Challenge Cup, including three of four against French opposition. This is the third appearance in the Challenge Cup knockout stage for Montpellier, however, they have yet to advance to a semi-final. Montpellier have won seven of their last eight matches against Aviva Premiership opposition in the Challenge Cup. Sale conceded the fewest points (78) and tries (9) in the pool stage this season. Sale have won their last six matches in the Challenge Cup against clubs from the Top 14, and a seventh win would equal their longest winning streak against French opposition in the competition, set between 2000 and 2005.

The teams:

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

Montpellier: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Anthony Tuitavke, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Benjamin Fall, 10 Benjamin Lucas, 9 Benoit Paillaugue, 8 Akapusi Qera, 7 Wiaan Liebenberg, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Thibaut Privat, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Jannie Du Plessis, 2 Bismarck Du Plessis, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili
Replacements: 16 Mickael Ivaldi, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Davit Kubriashvili, 19 Robins Tchale Watchou, 20 Kelian Galletier, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Robert Ebersohn, 23 Anthony Floch

Date: Friday, April 8
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Kick-off: 19:45 BST (18:45 GMT)
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson (Ireland), Gary Conway (Ireland)
TMO: Kilgore Marshall (Ireland)