Preview: Sale v Wasps

Date published: February 24 2012

Wales international Andy Powell will start at number eight for Sale in Friday's Premiership clash with Wasps at Edgeley Park .

Wales international Andy Powell will start at number eight for Sale in Friday's Aviva Premiership clash with Wasps at Edgeley Park.

Powell, not in the Wales 22 at Twickenham, continues in the back row against his former club and Kearnan Myall is included in the second row, his first start since the Amlin Challenge Cup game at La Vila on January 14th.

Vadim Cobilas is preferred at tighthead prop and James Gaskell switches to blindside flanker.

“We've got four home games left in the Aviva Premiership, and we've got to win them all, starting with Friday if we're to challenge the top four,” said Sale boss Steve Diamond.

“Our discipline let us down a bit at Northampton last Saturday, so we need to keep winning our home games and pickup points where we can on the road.”

Friday's game brings London Wasps to face current Sharks' Head Coach Tony Hanks, but the former Adams Park Director of Rugby says, “I'm very focused about the task in hand here. This game is not about me, it's about Sale Sharks, our ambition and what we want to achieve. Getting the points is paramount.”

Meanwhile, London Wasps have been boosted by the return to full fitness of rising stars Joe Launchbury and James Cannon who will both start.

With Richard Birkett ruled out for the weekend, Launchbury is handed the number six shirt from the off for his first start since October, while Cannon is named in the second-row for his first start of the competitive season – both having recovered from lengthy spells on the side-line.

In the two other changes to the starting line-up Jack Wallace starts on the wing while Tim Payne returns to the front row.

On the bench Russian hooker Vladislav Korshunov replaces Rob Webber who is on England duty with Joe Simpson also making the replacements having been released from international duty.

“We know that Sale on a Friday night is a difficult place to go for any team so we've got to work incredibly hard to come back with points,” said Dai Young.

“There are certain areas of our game we need to tighten up on but we must remember that we haven't been too far away from claiming wins in the past two weeks and stay confident in what we are trying to achieve.”

“Our kicking game is one area we simply must improve on. On his day Nick Robinson can be one of the best 10s in the league and it's important that I show confidence in him to kick us those vital points and get us into territories where we can attack. It's also great to welcome back Joe Launchbury and James Cannon into the team. They are both desperate to get game-time and will bring with them a real desire to work hard for the team.”

Form: Sale Sharks have won just one of their last four Aviva Premiership Rugby matches: 15-12 at home to Worcester on 10 February. The Sharks' only loss at Edgeley Park in their last five games in all competitions was 9-19 to Brive in the Amlin Challenge Cup on 19 January. London Wasps have slipped to eight straight defeats in Aviva Premiership Rugby since their 14-12 victory at Worcester on 28 October. Sale won 29-18 when the two teams met at Adams Park in round three; the Sharks have not achieved a seasons double over Wasps since 2008/09.

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The teams:

Sale Sharks: 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 Kearnan Myall, 4 Andrei Ostrikov, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Joe Ward, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Tony Buckley, 19 Onosa'i Auva'a, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Cillian Willis, 22 Luther Burrell, 23 Joaquin Tuculet

London Wasps: 15 Hugo Southwell, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Dom Waldouck, 11 Jack Wallace, 10 Nick Robinson, 9 Nic Berry, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jonathan Poff, 6 Joe Launchbury, 5 Marco Wentzel (c ), 4 James Cannon, 3 Ben Broster, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Vladislav Korshunov, 17 Zak Taulafo, 18 Simon McIntyre, 19 Ed O'Donoghue, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Ryan Davis, 23 Paul Emerick.

Date: Friday 24th February
Venue: Edgeley Park
Kick-off: 19.45 GMT
Referee: Sean Davey