Preview: Sale Sharks v Saracens

Date published: February 20 2015

Sale Sharks are boosted by the return from England duty of fly-half Danny Cipriani, who will start their Premiership clash with Saracens on Saturday.

Cipriani will line up alongside Chris Cusiter in the half-backs while Sam Tuitupou and Johnny Leota form what has become a strong midfield.

Dan Braid captains the Sharks, joining Dave Seymour and Josh Beaumont in the back-row while Jonathan Milles and Nathan Hines start at lock.

Meanwhile, Saracens have also welcomed back England players in the form of scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth and loosehead prop Mako Vunipola.

The pair go straight into the starting line-up after two weeks of Six Nations duty while the XV also includes the returning Marcelo Bosch.

David Strettle is back on the wing while among the replacements is Pumas tighthead prop Juan Figallo who returns after a hamstring injury.

Form: Sale Sharks have won their last two matches in Aviva Premiership Rugby and obtained their first maximum point victory since Round Seven in beating London Welsh in Oxford on Sunday. The Sharks have lost only one of their last six Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures at AJ Bell Stadium, 30-32 to Leicester on 27 December. Saracens have lost only one of their last five encounters in the competition: 23-24 at Gloucester in Round 13. Saracens only away win in Aviva Premiership Rugby since September came at Newcastle on 27 December. The two teams have already met on three occasions this year home and away in the European Champions Cup as well as the Premiership Rugby meeting at Allianz Park, all three encounters were won by Saracens added to two more last year. Sale’s only victory over Saracens in Premiership Rugby in their last twelve matches since 2008 was 28-22 at Edgeley Park on 2 January 2011.

The teams:

Sale: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Will Addison, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Chris Cusiter, 8 Josh Beaumont, 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid (c), 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Jonathan Mills, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Eifion Lewis Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Alberto de Marchi, 18 Ross Harrison, 19 Magnus Lund, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Tom Arscott.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Ernst Joubert, 5 Alistair Hargreaves (c), 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Petrus du Plessis, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Brett Sharman, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Hayden Smith, 20 Matt Hankin, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Chris Wyles.

Date: Saturday, February 21
Venue: Salford City Stadium, Salford
Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
Referee: Dean Richards
Assistant Referees: Gareth Copsey, tbc
TMO: Trevor Fisher