Planet Rugby

Preview: Leicester v Sale

26th December 2010 12:51

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Andrew Sheridan

Andrew Sheridan: Ruled out

New Sale head coach Peter Anglesea faces a tough baptism as the struggling Sharks travel to a sold out Welford Road to face Leicester.

Former captain Anglesea has stepped up from his job as the club's academy chief following the departure of New Zealander Mike Brewer on December 23.

He will be assisted in his new role, which he has been placed in until the end of the season, by forwards coach coach Steve Scott, backs coach Byron Hayward and defence specialist Graham Steadman.

Anglesea will be hoping he can turn around the Sharks' disappointing season, including a run of four straight losses in all competitions.

"I am looking to make the game at Leicester our benchmark and we will have a look at things after the game and set our goals on where we are going," he said.

"I have told the players that I want them to go out on to the field, express themselves and play with a smile on their face."

However the omens are not good for the visitors; they have won just once on their last eight trips to Leicester.

Their cause is hampered even further by the absence of England prop Andrew Sheridan due to a back injury, though Chris Jones does make his first start of the season in the Aviva Premiership.

Leicester, meanwhile, are missing Ben Youngs, Dan Cole and George Chuter due to the EPS agreement, while Jordan Crane and Toby Flood are ruled out through injury.

Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill has picked James Grindal and Jeremy Staunton as his half-back partnership. There is also a place in the centres for Manu Tuilagi.

Rob Hawkins and Ed Slater come into the forward pack, with Steve Mafi continuing in the back row alongside Craig Newby and Thomas Waldrom.

"This is a pretty intense period of rugby, especially with two big, physical games against Perpignan in the last couple of weeks, so it is important that we look after the players and manage the squad," said Cockerill.

"We also have the England rest periods and a few injuries to deal with, but we've got a good squad and I'm looking for a big performance in front of a full house at Welford Road.

"We had a very good win away to London Irish in our last league game and we need to maintain our momentum and keep hold of that place in the top four of the table."

Form: The last four encounters between the two clubs have been won by the home side on the day, whilst Sale have gained just one victory at Welford Road in their last eight visits in all competitions: 14-11 in the Premiership on 23 February 2008. Leicester Tigers have won their last three matches in Aviva Premiership Rugby since their 12-19 reversal at Gloucester in round seven. The Tigers only home defeat in their last 27 Premiership encounters since September 2008 was 23-32 to Saracens on 8 May 2010. Sale Sharks have lost their last four matches in all competitions since their 23-17 victory over Leeds in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on 14 November. The Sharks have won just 2 of their last dozen away games in the Premiership: 6-3 at Leeds on 22 October.

Leicester: 15 Geordan Murphy (capt), 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Jeremy Staunton, 9 James Grindal; 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Craig Newby, 6 Steve Mafi, 5 Ed Slater, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Joe Duffey, 17 Peter Bucknall, 18 Julian White, 19 Calum Green, 20 George Skivington, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Matt Smith, 23 Billy Twelvetrees.

Sale: 15 Paul Williams, 14 Ben Cohen, 13 Mathew Tait, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Sisa Koyamaibole, 7 Carl Fearns, 6 Asaeli Boko, 5 Kristian Ormsby, 4 Chris Jones, 3 Karena Wihongi, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Lee Imiolek.
Replacements: 16 Ben Roberts, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Sean Cox, 20 Chris Brightwell, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Chris Bell.

Date: Monday, 27th December
Venue: Welford Road
Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
Referee: Dean Richards

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