Preview: Sale v Newcastle

Date published: December 23 2011

Sale welcome scrum-half Dwayne Peel back to their starting team for the clash with Newcastle Falcons at Edgeley Park on Boxing Day.

Sale welcome scrum-half Dwayne Peel back to their starting XV for the Aviva Premiership clash with Newcastle at Edgeley Park on Boxing Day.

Mark Easter recovers from an injury sustained in November while Andy Titterrell returns to Sharks colours for the first time since April 13, 2007.

“Boxing Day games always have an extra edge to them,” said Executive Director of Sport Steve Diamond.

“Falcons have beaten Wasps, Gloucester and Toulon: if they can pick up victories on the road, expect them to climb. To this end, we need to be ready for them. We aim to finish 2011 as we started this season.”

Meanwhile, Newcastle head coach Alan Tait has made six changes for the Boxing Day clash.

Hooker Rob Vickers starts for the first time in three months after recovering from a serious knee injury sustained in the thrilling Aviva Premiership encounter with Leicester in September.

The Falcons are also buoyed by the return of giant Samoan international Taiasina Tu'ifua who was rested for the trip to Toulon, while Ally Hogg gets the nod at number eight.

Aviva Premiership Golden Boot winner for the last two seasons Jimmy Gopperth replaces Jeremy Manning at fly-half with Tongan international Suka Hufanga starting on the wing.

Tait's unit will be aiming to pick up that all important away victory on the back of six games unbeaten at home.

“We know it is going to tough down at Sale and we have to go down there – be sharp and positive and really take them on,” said Tait.

“I have watched a lot of Sale and it is important to do your homework. They are a good side and their pack has a lot of gas and get around the pitch well.

“Their backs are also playing well and scoring some good tries – they are a very mobile side.”

Form: Sale Sharks have won their last three games in all competitions. The Sharks have slippped to successive Aviva Premiership Rugby defeats at Edgeley Park, against Leicester and Exeter, but have not lost three in a row at home in the tournament since 2007. Newcastle Falcons have won four of their last six matches in all competitions, and ended a four game winless run in the Premiership with their 26-25 home win over Gloucester in round ten. The Falcons' only away victory since March came at Petrarca Padova in the European Challenge Cup on 19 November. Sale's only win in their last five encounters with Newcastle was 35-18 in this equivalent fixture in September 2010, whilst the Falcons have been victorious on three of their last five visits to Edgeley Park.

The teams:

Sale: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sam Tuitupou (capt), 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Andy Powell, 7 David Seymour, 6 James Gaskell, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Andy Titterrell, 17 Vadim Cobilas, 18 Tony Buckley, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Cillian Willis, 22 Andrew Higgins, 23 Will Addison.

Newcastle: 15 Greg Goosen, 14 Luke Eves, 13 Corne Uys, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Suka Hufanga, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Jordi Pasqualin, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch, 6 Taiasina Tu'ifua, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 James Hudson (capt), 3 Euan Murray, 2 Rob Vickers, 1 Grant Shiells.
Replacements: 16 Rob Vickers, 17 Ashley Wells, 18 Dan Frazier, 19 Adriaan Fondse, 20 Richard Mayhew, 21 Chris Pilgrim, 22 Tom Catterick, 23 Jeremy Manning.

Date: Monday, December 26
Kick-off: 14:30
Venue: Edgeley Park
Referee: David Pearson