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Preview: Sale Sharks v Bath

12th April 2012 12:17

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Tom Heathcote Bath v Newcastle Aviva Premiership Recreation Ground Feb 2012

Starting at fly-half for Bath: Tom Heathcote

Sale Sharks have made three changes to their starting XV, one positional, for Friday's Aviva Premiership clash with Bath at Edgeley Park.

Andrei Ostrikov, who has not featured since early February, comes into the second row and Joe Ward starts at hooker. James Gaskell switches from lock to flanker.

Henry Thomas is included in the squad for the first time New Year's Day: the England Saxons prop damaged a knee at Leicester, as well as having to have his face stitched following a clash with colleague David Seymour.

"Bath are a very good side, with World-class players," said Sharks' CEO Steve Diamond.

"We were competitive at Newcastle, but didn't manage the game for the full eighty minutes. We've hopefully rectified that in training."

Meanwhile, Bath captain Stuart Hooper and fly-half Tom Heathcote both return to the visitors' starting line-up. Stephen Donald is not included in the matchday squad.

Olly Barkley is named at inside centre, alongside Matt Banahan, who shifts to outside centre from the wing. Matt Carraro moves outside to the wing, with Tom Biggs on the opposite side.

Form: Sale Sharks have slipped to three successive defeats in Aviva Premiership Rugby, including a heaviest ever loss at Edgeley Park last time out: 9-45 against Saracens. Bath have lost their last three encounters in all competitions, but away from home have won two of their last three matches. Sale's 16-13 over Bath at The Rec in round 10 ended a five game losing run against the Westcountrymen, whilst the Sharks have not recorded a season's double over Bath since 2005/06.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Sale Sharks: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sam Tuitupou (c), 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 Tony Buckley, 2 Joe Ward, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Vadim Cobilas, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Richie Vernon, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Cillian Willis, 22 Will Addison, 23 Charlie Amesbury.

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Matt Carraro, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Olly Barkley, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Carl Fearns, 6 Ben Skirving, 5 Stuart Hooper (c), 4 Dave Attwood, 3 David Wilson, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Pieter Dixon, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Ryan Caldwell, 20 Josh Ovens, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Sam Vesty, 23 Dan Hipkiss.

Date: Friday, April 13
Venue: Edgeley Park
Kick-off: 19.45 BST (18.45 GMT)
Referee: Greg Garner

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PosTeamPPts
1Saracens418
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5Wasps411