Planet Rugby

Preview: Leicester v Sale

01st March 2013 07:51

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Graham Kitchener Sale v Leicester Aviva Premiership

Presence: Graham Kitchener

Tom Croft will captain Leicester Tigers in the Aviva Premiership fixture against Sale Sharks at Welford Road this Saturday.

Back-rower Croft has made a successful return after a neck injury in recent weeks and makes his 100th starting appearance for the club this weekend.

Mathew Tait and Niall Morris return to the backline for Saturday - Leicester's only home fixture during March - while Thomas Waldrom returns from the England squad to take the Tigers No8 shirt.

"We've had disappointing results in the last two weeks but in terms of performance we've done some good things," said Leicester boss Richard Cockerill.

"There are still six games remaining so there is a lot of rugby to be played yet and a lot of points still up for grabs. We keep a positive frame of mind and just keep battling away."

Tigers are without six players retained by England this weekend, while Anthony Allen, Miles Benjamin, Martin Castrogiovanni, Louis Deacon, Geordan Murphy and Boris Stankovich are unavailable due to injury.

Meanwhile, Sale Sharks travel to Welford Road tomorrow to play Leicester Tigers hoping to bounce back following the 21-30 defeat at home to Harlequins last Friday.

The Sharks have won their last two away games in all competitions but have not won three in a row on the road in the same season since October 2006.

Scrum-half Will Cliff signed a new deal at the club earlier in the week but is unavailable tomorrow due to an injury picked up in a freak training ground incident.

"Will's had his best season at the club and he's done really well for us. He took an unfortunate knock in training but he's a local lad who never lets the team down and the fact he signed a new deal is brilliant for us," said Sale boss Steve Diamond.

Form: Leicester have lost their last two Premiership matches at the hands of league-leaders Harlequins and more surprisingly at home to play-off rivals Saracens last time out, with the London side returning home with 32-27 win. That run has seen Leicester slip to third in the table, just four points clear of fifth-placed London Wasps with the possibility of failing to make the play-offs now an outside possibility for the nine-time Premiership champions. This weekend they welcome bottom-club Sale, who will arrive in good shape having won four of their last five in all competitions.

The teams:

Leicester Tigers: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Dan Bowden, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 George Ford, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Tom Croft (c), 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Kieran Brookes, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Brett Deacon, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Micky Young, 22 Matt Cornwell, 23 Scott Hamilton.

Sale Sharks: 15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Jonny Leota, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Will Addison, 10 Nick Maclod, 9 Cillian Willis, 8 Richie Vernon, 7 David Seymour (c), 6 Dan Braid, 5 Fraser McKenzie, 4 James Gaskell, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Al Dickinson, 18 Tony Buckley, 19 Richie Gray, 20 Andy Powell, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Jordan Davies.

Date: Saturday, March 2
Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: Welford Road
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Peter Huckle, Gordon Goodliffe
Television match official: Mike Hamlin

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PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00