Preview: Sale v Saracens

Date published: March 22 2012

Sale Sharks have made three changes to their side to play champions Saracens in the Aviva Premiership game at Edgeley Park on Friday.

Sale Sharks have made three changes to their side to play champions Saracens in the Aviva Premiership game at Edgeley Park on Friday.

The fifteen sees Luther Burrell, Tony Buckley and Mark Easter coming in for the benched Johnny Leota, Vadim Cobilas and Richie Vernon.

Returning from injury are prop Alasdair Dickinson, who missed all of Scotland's Six Nations campaign, and lock Tom Holmes, who featured in the Sharks' first eight games of the season. Holmes was injured in an Aviva 'A' League match against Leeds Carnegie on November 7 but successfully returned last week when the club's second string beat Rygbi Gogledd Cymru.

“After a three week break, the boys are really keen to get back into match action.Unfortunately, the Exeter game put a dampener on what had been a good February,” said Sharks' coach Tony Hanks.

“We have to find the balance between not repeating what happened at Sandy Park and building on the good things we were doing beforehand. We've done enough training – we're ready to play!”

In Saracens team news, Charlie Hodgson returns to face the club for whom he played for ten seasons. Fellow England squad men Matt Stevens and Brad Barritt are included in the Sarries' 23.

Owen Farrell, Mouritz Botha David Strettle get a week off.

Also named on the bench is prop Mako Vunipola for his first appearance since fracturing his foot in November.

Form: Sale Sharks' last seven matches in Aviva Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day. Sale's only home defeat in the Premiership since October came at the hands of Exeter on 25 November. Saracens have lost two of their last three encounters in the Premiership and also two out of three in their last three away games in the competition. The Sharks only victory over Saracens in their last seven clashes in all competitions was 28-22 at Edgeley Park in this equivalent fixture last season.

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The teams:

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

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Duncan Taylor, 13 Chris Wyles, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 James Short, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Neil De Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Juston Melck, 5 George Kruis, 4 Steve Borthwick (capt), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 John Smit.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Carlos Nieto, 19 Hugh Vyvyan, 20 Andy Saull, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Adam Powell, 23 Michael Tacigakibau.

Date: Friday, March 23
Kick-off: 19:45
Venue: Edgeley Park
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant referees: Stuart Terheege, Alan Hughes