Preview: Sale Sharks v Harlequins

Date published: September 8 2016

Sale have made four changes to their XV that lost to Newcastle as they run out for their first home game of the season against Harlequins.

Neil Briggs, Jonathan Mills, David Seymour and Paolo Odogwu come into the side to replace Rob Webber, Andrei Ostrikov, Laurence Pearce and Nev Edwards respectively.

Speaking ahead of the game, boss Steve Diamond said: “We have high expectation levels here at the club. We could have done a lot better last week against Newcastle, but we will do a lot better on Friday night.

“It will be a tough game, Quins have got a good leadership team and new players in, so they’ll be throwing everything at us to get the win. For us, it’s back to the grindstone at the AJ Bell, and grind out another successful season at home.”

Meanwhile, the Quins starting team remains unchanged from that which defeated Bristol during the London Double Header last weekend.

Among the replacements James Chisholm and Winston Stanley replace George Merrick and Alofa Alofa.

Speaking ahead of the fixture, Harlequins director of rugby John Kingston said: “We will be looking for a much improved performance this week against Sale Sharks. The AJ Bell is a very tough place to visit, Sale have an excellent record at home and they will be wanting to bounce back from last week’s defeat to Newcastle Falcons.

“George Merrick has been ill in the week, while Alofa Alofa picked up a knock in training. Mike Brown continues his successful reintegration into training after his recent illness and should be available for selection next week.”

Form: Sale Sharks have won just one of their last four Premiership fixtures: 21-15 against Newcastle at Kingston Park in Round 22 last season. The Sharks most recent home game at AJ Bell Stadium ended in an 11-12 defeat to Gloucester in the Premiership, ending an eleven game unbeaten sequence at the venue in the competition. Harlequins began their campaign with victory in Round 1 for a sixth successive season in overcoming Bristol on Saturday but in the last three years they have slipped to defeat in Round 2. Harlequins won their most recent away game at relegated London Irish in Round 21 to end a six game losing streak on the road in the competition. Each side won its respective home game when the two clubs met in 2015/16, with Sale’s 29-23 success at AJ Bell Stadium in March ending a four game winning run by Harlequins in this particular fixture.

The teams:

Sale Sharks: 15 Byron McGuigan, 14 Will Addison, 13 Sam James, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Paolo Odogwu, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Josh Beaumont (c), 7 David Seymour, 6 TJ Ioane, 5 Jonathan Mills, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts
Replacements: 16 Cameron Neild, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Kieran Longbottom, 19 Andrei Ostrikov, 20 Laurence Pearce, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Dan Mugford, 23 Nev Edwards

Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care (c), 8 Jack Clifford, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 James Horwill, 4 Sam Twomey, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Will Collier, 19 James Chisholm, 20 Mat Luamanu, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Winston Stanley

Date: Friday, September 9
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Kick-off: 20:15 BST (19:15 GMT)
Referee: Thomas Foley
Assistant Referees: Roger Baileff, Jonathan Healy
TMO: Keith Lewis