Preview: Sale Sharks v London Irish

Date published: January 29 2016

Sale Sharks welcome back four key players for Saturday's Aviva Premiership clash against London Irish at AJ Bell Stadium.

Following his return from England, Josh Beaumont starts the match, with Sam Tuitupou, David Seymour and TJ Ioane all returning to the starting XV.

The last four fixtures between the two sides have ended in home wins and you have to go back to 2011 for Irish’s last win away at Sale when they faced each other at Bolton Wanderers’ Macron Stadium.

Speaking ahead of the fixture, Steve Diamond said:  "London Irish are a side going through a bit of transition, with new coaches, but they seem to have got their act together with a couple of good wins against Newcastle Falcons and Northampton Saints and they’ve won games in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, so they’ll be coming confident so we’ve got to carry on the way we’ve been playing.:

Meanwhile, London Irish Head Coach Tom Coventry has made 11 changes to the side that beat Agen to secure a Challenge Cup quarter-final berth.

Topsy Ojo, Shane Geraghty, Conor Gilsenan and Luke Narraway are the only starters from last weekend’s 31-17 victory in France. 

Tom Court, David Paice and Halani Aulika all start together in the front row, with Matt Symons and Will Lloyd combining once again in the second row. Ofisa Treviranus, Conor Gilsenan and Luke Narraway are named as the back row trio.

Brendan McKibbin returns to the side at scrum half with Shane Geraghty starting at fly half. Johnny Williams and Ciaran Hearn form the centre partnership and Topsy Ojo, Aseli Tikoirotuma and Sean Maitland make up the back three.

"We were delighted with the result last weekend and it is important that we build on that performance with another good display against Sale," said Coventry. 

"The Sharks are a formidable side at home so we know we will have to be at our best to get the result."

Form: London Irish are yet to win on the road in Premiership Rugby this season, though they have won each of their last two league outings at the Madejski Stadium. They also arrive in the North West off the back of victory in France, having completed their Challenge Cup pool with a 31-17 win at Agen that saw them reach the quarter-finals. Sale have been beaten just once at the AJ Bell Stadium in the last 12 months.

The teams: 

Sale: 15 Mike Haley, 14  Will Addison, 13 Sam James, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Nev Edwards, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Josh Beaumont 7 David Seymour (c), 6 TJ Ioane, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts,
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Jonathan Mills, 20 Cameron Neild, 21 Chris Cusiter, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Tom Arscott.

Irish: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Luke Narraway 7 Conor Gilsenan, 6 Ofisa Treviranus, 5 Will Lloyd, 4 Matt Symons (c), 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court,

Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Johnny Harris, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Rob McCusker, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 Andrew Fenby

Date: Saturday, January 30
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Referee: Gregory Garner 
Assistant Referees: Steve Lee, Gareth Copsey 
TMO: Keith Lewis