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Preview: Sale v Northampton

29th November 2012 12:50

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Johnny Leota Sale 2012

Johnny Leota: Back from international duty

Sale have made four changes, including a positional switch, to their starting XV for Friday's Premiership clash with Northampton at Salford City Stadium.

Amongst the backs Cameron Shepherd replaces Rob Miller at full-back while Johnny Leota, who returns from international duty with Samoa, takes over from Will Addison to partner Sam Tuitupou in the midfield.

Up front, Richie Gray, who is also back from Test action with Scotland, is in for Fraser McKenzie at lock and Richie Vernon and Andy Powell swap places in the back row with Vernon starting at number eight and Powell at blindside flank.

Meanwhile, Saints boss Jim Mallinder is buoyant after last Saturday's home win over London Welsh moved his team back into the Premiership's top four, just two points off top spot.

With just six points separating the league's top eight teams Mallinder said that every win matters, but that things will not be easy against a motivated Sale team.

"Sale have been getting some disappointing results this season and we're expecting them to be very motivated for tomorrow's game, especially with the return of John Mitchell to the club," he said.

"They have talented players who will no doubt be looking to prove a point, and after having won their last three home matches in all competitions they have developed a winning habit in Salford over the past month.

"We know we will have a big job on our hands, but all our focus this week has been on getting a good result on Friday night. This season the Aviva Premiership is more competitive than ever and every point matters. We have had two wins in the past two weeks and now we want to build on that tomorrow."

Form: Sale Sharks' solitary victory in their last ten Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters was 21-9 at home to London Irish on 2 November. Sale have won their last three games at Salford City Stadium in all competitions. Northampton Saints have won their last two games against Newport Gwent Dragons and London Welsh, whilst the Saints have lost their last two away games in the Premiership. The Sharks have won just one of their last seven clashes with the Saints: 29-21 at Edgeley Park on 23 September 2011.

The teams:

Sale Sharks: 15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Charlie Amesbury, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Richie Vernon, 7 David Seymour (c), 6 Andy Powell, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Joe Ward, 17 Eifion Lewis-Roberts, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Fraser McKenzie, 20 James Gaskell, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Rob Miller.

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Dom Waldouck, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Ryan Lamb. 9 Martin Roberts, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 Rhys Oakley, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Tom May.

Date: Friday, November 30
Kick-off: 19:45
Venue: Salford City Stadium
Referee: Llyr Apgeraint-Roberts
Assistant referees: Paul Burton, Robin Goodliffe
Television match official: David Grashoff
Timekeeper: Mike Hamlin
Assessor: Brian Campsall

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