Preview: Wasps v Sale Sharks

Date published: March 18 2016

Wasps’ director of rugby Dai Young has named his squad to take on Sale Sharks in their Premiership clash at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday.

Simon McIntyre is set to make his 100th appearance for Wasps as he is named to start once again, while Sam Jones captains the side, in the absence of the injured George Smith.

The Wasps backline remains unchanged for a fourth successive week, with just one change in the pack, where Nathan Hughes starts at eight in the place of Smith, Sam Jones moving to six and Thomas Young to seven.

Ahead of the game, which sees third-placed Wasps take on eighth-placed Sale Sharks with just ten points between them, Young said: “We were very pleased with our performance last weekend, in a high intensity, hugely physical battle, but that game is now gone and our challenge is to match that level of performance against a very aggressive, physical Sale Sharks side.

“We don’t need to think too far back to remember how Sale beat us at the AJ Bell Stadium, where we were disappointed in our performance. We know that Sale will punish us, as they have done in the past, if we are not at the top of our game, so we have to play with real tempo, pace and penetration.

“With the league as tight as it is currently, with the gap between third and eighth so narrow, one win or loss can completely change how the table looks. The challenge for us is backing up last weekend’s performance with another one on Sunday.”

Meanwhile, Sale boss Steve Diamond has made nine changes to his starting line-up that lost at Northampton last weekend. 

In the backline, Tom Brady and Nev Edwards replace Tom Arscott and Will Addison on the wings while Jonny Leota and Mark Jennings take over from Sam James and Sam Tuitupou in midfield.

Up front, Mark Easter comes in for TJ Ioane at number eight and Magnus Lund is preferred to Cameron Neild on the blindside flank while Jonathan Mills takes over from Bryn Evans in the second row.

The final changes are in the front row where Brian Mujati and Neil Briggs replace Vadim Cobilas and Tommy Taylor at tighthead prop and hooker respectively.

Form: Wasps only defeat in the Premiership since they went down at Sale on 2 January was 10-13 at Gloucester in Round 15. Wasps have won their last five encounters at Ricoh Arena in all tournaments since Saracens beat them there over Christmas in the Premiership. Sale Sharks only victory in their last four Premiership fixtures was 29-23 at home to Harlequins in Round 15. The Sharks have won on the road in the tournament just once this season: 10-3 at Leicester on 6 February. Wasps only victory over Sale in their last eight fixtures in all tournaments was 41-16 in this equivalent fixture at the Ricoh Arena last season.

The teams:

Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Charles Piutau, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Sam Jones (c), 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 James Cannon, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Simon McIntyre 
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Alex Rieder, 21 Jamie Stevenson, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Brendan Macken

Sale Sharks:  15 Mike Haley, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Jonny Leota, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Nev Edwards, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Mark Easter 7 David Seymour (c), 6 Magnus Lund, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Jonathan Mills, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Ross Harrison 
Replacements: 16 Cameron Neild, 17 James Flynn, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 TJ Ioane, 20 Viliami Fihaki, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Sam James

Date: Sunday, March 20
Venue: Ricoh Arena
Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
Referee: Dean Richards
Assistant Referees: Paul Burton, Andy Watson
TMO: Sean Davey