Preview: Sale v Worcester

Date published: November 21 2013

Sale Sharks return to Aviva Premiership action on Friday when they take on basement side Worcester Warriors at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Sale return to Premiership action on Friday when they host basement side Worcester at the AJ Bell Stadium.

The eighth placed Sharks will be looking to compound the Warriors' domestic woes as Round Eight of the league kicks-off in Salford.

Selection sees Dwayne Peel and Danny Cipriani paired together at half-back while James Gaskell, David Seymour and Dan Braid form the back-row.

Marc Jones gets the nod ahead of Tommy Taylor.

Meanwhile, James Stephenson is set to make his Aviva Premiership debut for Worcester on Friday.

The 23-year-old scored on his debut in the LV= Cup win over Cardiff Blues earlier this month and has impressed enough for boss Dean Ryan to give him his first appearance in the top-flight.

Tighthead prop Rob O'Donnell is another player whose recent performances have earned him a Premiership start and the former Sale man will line-up alongside Chris Brooker and Ofa Fainga'anuku in the front-row.

James Percival will make his first Premiership start of the season at lock next to Mike Williams, while the back-row sees the return of Argentina's Leonardo Senatore at eight.

Jonny Arr retains his place at scrum-half alongside Ignacio Mieres, who starts at fly-half.

Dean Hammond will start on the left wing, while Ravai Fatiaki partners Alex Grove at centre.

“The LV= Cup been a real shot in the arm for us. I've been pleased with the attitude, enthusiasm and energy of our youngsters and it's created a nice vibe around the team,” said Ryan.

“Professional rugby is about a conveyor belt where youngsters are pushing the senior guys.

“In the past we've had the nature of being quite senior and keeping places static and one of the key challenges is to try and change that.

“Now we have to see whether these senior guys can respond. If they don't step up to the challenge they know there are some very talented youngsters behind them.

“We've played Sale once this season and they beat us convincingly. We were driven badly and couldn't cope with it so it's a big test for us to see if we have we closed that gap.”

Form: Sale Sharks have slipped to successive Aviva Premiership reversals at the hands of Harlequins and Exeter. The Sharks have been defeated in their last two encounters at the AJ Bell Stadium in all tournaments. Worcester Warriors remain the only side in the Premiership without a victory so far in this campaign, but at least did win their first game since March against Cardiff Blues in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on 8 November. The Warriors have been victorious only once on the road in the Premiership since April 2009, beating Wasps at Adams Park on 1 January 2012. The two clubs are scheduled to meet on five separate occasions this season, twice in the Premiership, twice in Europe and once in the Anglo-Welsh Cup. The only encounter already played was in the European Challenge Cup at Sixways last month with Sale winning 29-15. The last six meetings between the two sides in the Premiership have all been won by the home side on the day.

The teams:

Sale Sharks: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Tom Arscott, 13 Will Addison, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 James Gaskell, 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid, 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Jonathan Mills, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Eifion Lewis Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Andrei Ostrikov, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Mark Jennings.

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 James Stephenson, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Ravai Fatiaki, 11 Dean Hammond, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Sam Betty, 6 Jonathan Thomas (c), 5 Mike Williams, 4 James Percival, 3 Rob O'Donnell, 2 Chris Brooker, 1 Ofa Fainga'anuku.
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 Jeremy Becasseau, 18 John Andress, 19 Dean Schofield, 20 Richard de Carpentier, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Paul Warwick, 23 Josh Matavesi.

Date: Friday, November 22
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant referees: Robin Goodliffe, Stuart Terheege
Television match official: David Grashoff
Assessor: Steve Lee