Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints preview

The Saints have not achieved a Premiership double over the Sharks since season 1999/2000.


Sale Sharks have lost their last seven matches in all competitions – their poorest run since season 1999/2000.


The Sharks have gained just one league point from their last three outings in the Guinness Premiership, from their 16-22 defeat at Wasps on 14 February.


Northampton Saints’ only defeat in their last eight matches in the Guinness Premiership was 6-13 at Harlequins on 20 February.


The teams have already met twice this season with Northampton winning both times: 21-16 at Franklin’s Gardens in the Guinness Premiership and 20-14 in the LV= Cup at Edgeley Park.


Northampton Saints have included Dan Vickerman in a match day squad for the first time. Vickerman has been brought into the Saints’ squad as injury cover for Christian Day, whose neck injury sustained against Munster in January ruled him out of action for a minimum of three months.


So far this season the 30-year-old Australian international lock had been unavailable for Saints selection considerations due to his university commitments in Cambridge, where he is currently studying Land Economy and captained the Light Blues in the 2009 Varsity campaign.


However Day’s injury, and Courtney Lawes’s continued involvement in the England Elite Playing Squad, left the Saints short of cover for the Guinness Premiership, LV= Cup and Heineken Cup run-in, which is why director of rugby Jim Mallinder brought Vickerman into his squad.


“We had hoped to have had Dan involved earlier in the season but his commitments to Cambridge University meant that this wasn’t possible,” Mallinder said today.


“Christian’s injury at Thomond Park was very unfortunate, but it has meant that we have been able to bring Dan in for the rest of the season. His experience of international and Super 14 knock-out rugby will be good to have around the squad as we go into the final, crucial stages of the season.”


The Saints travel to Sale with memories of their last away match at the Twickenham Stoop still fresh in their minds.


“The Quins match was a wake-up call for us and a result that we don’t want repeated on Sunday,” Mallinder added.


“The Leicester game put us into a great position at the top end of the Premiership, but we now have to build on that at Edgeley Park. Sale’s squad is full of experienced and quality players, so if we are to get the result we want we will have to impose our game plan and put in a good performance ourselves.”


Sale Sharks on the other hand welcome back six players this weekend.


Director of Rugby Kingsley Jones said, “The six returning players have helped bring in competition for places and it’s the first time in four weeks I’ve even been able to think about selection because of our injury situation,” said Jones


“I understand entirely that our supporters are hugely disappointed and I know they can vote with their feet but we don’t want that to happen.”


“We need the fans to stick together just as much as the players and we need to make them our extra man starting on Sunday.”


Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints
Date 7th March 2010
Kick Off 14:30
Venue Edgeley Park


Teams


Sale Sharks


Nick Macleod, Marika Vakacegu, Jonny Kennedy, Lee Thomas, Ben Cohen, Charlie Hodgson, Dwayne Peel, Eifion Roberts, Neil Briggs, Jack Forster, Chris Jones, Dean Schofield, Kristian Ormsby, Carl Fearns, Sisa Koyamaibole


Replacements: Marc Jones, Gavin Kerr, Rob O’Donnell,Brent Cockbain, David Seymour, Richard Wigglesworth, David Bishop, Dafydd James


Northampton Saints


15 Bruce Reihana , 14 Chris Ashton , 13 Joe Ansbro , 12 James Downey , 11 Paul Diggin , 10 Stephen Myler , 9 Lee Dickson , 1 Soane Tonga’uiha , 2 Brett Sharman , 3 Brian Mujati , 4 Ignacio

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