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Preview: Northampton v Sale

17th February 2012 12:17

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Courtney Lawes: At flank for Saints

Saints return to Franklin's Gardens for their only home Aviva Premiership match of the Six Nations period when they take on Sale on Saturday.

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder says that the team will have to build on the bonus point earned at Kingsholm last weekend.

"We were disappointed last week because we played some good rugby, especially in the second half," he said.

"We've had to look at ourselves and work on a few things this week, especially our accuracy, which we need to get right. That said it was a good bonus point to win at Gloucester and it is something we can take into this weekend's game and build on.

"Because the Aviva Premiership table is so close at the moment every game is massively important. We got a losing bonus point away from home last week but it's a home game for us tomorrow and we need to win it.

"Sale is one of a number of teams just behind us in the table and are looking for a playoff spot. So it's important that we get a win this weekend."

Meanwhile, number eight Andy Powell returns from duty with Wales to the Sale Sharks starting XV.

Richie Vernon replaces the injured Hendre Fourie at blindside flanker as the only other change in the starting fifteen from last weekend's game against Worcester Warriors.

"We're really looking forward to it and there aren't too many changes to the squad," said Sharks head coach Tony Hanks.,

"We've trained well again and know we need to play well to come away with the points.

"We feel we drew a lot of positives from the Worcester game but know we need to keep building on the way we defend, and be more clinical when we have possession of the ball."

Form: Northampton Saints' three-game winning run in the Aviva Premiership ended at Gloucester on Saturday, whilst the Saints' only home defeat in the tournament this season came in round three against London Irish. Sale Sharks have won back-to-back matches against Scarlets and Worcester, but have been victorious on the road just once in the Premiership since Round Three: 16-13 at Bath on 3 December. The Sharks beat Northampton 29-21 at Edgeley Park in September and are chasing a first season's double over the East Midlanders since 2005/06.

The teams:

Northampton Saints: 15 Paul Diggin, 14 Vasily Artemyev, 13 George Pisi, 12 James Downey, 11 Noah Cato, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Martin Roberts, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Christian Day, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Andy Long, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 MarkSorenson, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Ryan Glynn, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Tom May.

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 Richie Vernon, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Andrei Ostrikov,3 Tony Buckley, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Joe Ward, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Cillian Willis, 22 Will Addison, 23 Luther Burrell.

Date: Saturday, 18 February
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Greg Garner

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Sale Sharks 14 - 28 NorthamptonSale Sharks vs Northampton Report
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PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
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