Planet Rugby

Preview: Sale v London Irish

19th December 2013 11:16

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Healthy: Ian Humphreys

Sale Sharks have named an unchanged backline for their Aviva Premiership clash against London Irish on Friday.

Danny Cipriani continues at fly-half after his impressive 28-point haul against Oyonnax in the Challenge Cup.

A new second row pairing sees Jonathan Mills partner Michael Paterson in the engine room.

Meanwhile, South African World Cup-winning tighthead prop CJ Van Der Linde will make his London Irish debut.

London Irish also welcome back Ian Humphreys from injury and he will partner Tomás O'Leary at half-back.

Eamonn Sheridan and Fergus Mulchrone will form the centre partnership with Topsy Ojo, Andrew Fenby and James O'Connor in the back three.

Matt Parr, Jimmy Stevens and Van Der Linde will start in the front row with Ian Gough and George Skivington in the second row. Blair Cowan, Jebb Sinclair and Chris Hala'ufia make up the back row.

"We know we'll have to manage the conditions well as Sale are very effective playing night rugby in wet conditions," said Exiles boss Brian Smith.

"Our preparation has been very good and we welcome back 10 starting players into the team. We're all very excited about the challenge and we'll be ready for the battle."

Form: Sale Sharks have won just once in Aviva Premiership Rugby in their last four games: 26-10 at home to bottom placed Worcester in round 8. The Sharks' solo defeat at AJ Bell Stadium in their last four Premiership encounters there was 16-18 to Exeter on 1st November. London Irish have won only one of their last eight fixtures in all tournaments: 24-13 over Stade Français at Madejski Stadium in the European Challenge Cup on 8th December, whilst their most recent victory in the Premiership was 18-13 at home to Harlequins on 5th October. The Exiles have won just once on the road in the Premiership since early January: 20-18 at Worcester in round 2 this season. London Irish have won just one of their last four encounters with the Sharks in the Premiership: 21-19 at Reading on 8th January 2012, whilst their only away victory at Sale since 2009 came in April 2011.

The teams:

Sale Sharks: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Mark Jennings, 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 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Eifion Lewis-Roberts, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Kirill Kulemin, 20 Andrei Ostrikov, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Phil Mckenzie.

London Irish: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Andrew Fenby, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Tomás O'Leary, 8 Chris Hala'ufia, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Jebb Sinclair, 5 Ian Gough, 4 George Skivington (c), 3 CJ Van der Linde, 2 Jimmy Stevens, 1 Matt Parr.
Replacements: 16 Mike Mayhew, 17 John Yapp, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Nic Rouse, 20 Ofisa Treviranus, 21 Alex Lewington, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Darren Allinson.

Date: Friday, December 20
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Chris Sharp, Luke Pearce
Television match official: Trevor Fisher
Timekeeper: Tony Turner
Assessor: Brian Campsall

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