Match Preview – Wasps Rugby v Sale Sharks
Fourth placed Sale Sharks visit the Ricoh Arena to face Wasps Rugby in round fifteen of the Gallagher Premiership on Saturday. Wasps sit tenth in the league table ahead of the Sharks trip to Coventry but could record back-to-back victories over Sale for the first time since 2016 if victorious.
Last Five Results
26/12/2020 – Sale Sharks 23 Wasps Rugby 26 – Gallagher Premiership
25/08/2020 – Wasps Rugby 11 Sale Sharks 20 – Gallagher Premiership
08/11/2019 – Sale Sharks 28 Wasps Rugby 18 – Gallagher Premiership
05/10/2019 – Sale Sharks 24 Wasps Rugby 20 – Premiership Rugby Cup
23/02/2019 – London Irish 18 Sale Sharks 24 – Gallagher Premiership
One to Watch: Alfie Barbeary
One of Wasps’ stand-out performers during the 20/21 Gallagher Premiership, Barbeary made his debut for Wasps as a replacement vs Bristol Bears in November last year. The 20-year-old hooker made an instant impact playing out of position at flanker, evolving into one of the league’s most effecting attacking forwards. Having recently returned from Injury, Barbeary will be the one to watch for Wasps this weekend, whether Lee Blackett deploys him at hooker or in the back row.
Wasps can record back-to-back Premiership wins versus Sale Sharks for the first time since 2016 with a victory on Saturday.
Prior to the reverse of this fixture in December, Wasps endured a three-match losing streak against Sale Sharks in the Gallagher Premiership.
Sale Sharks wins in their last three home fixtures (versus London Irish, Newcastle Falcons and Exeter Chiefs) but have suffered two consecutive away defeats in the Gallagher Premiership recently.
Alfie Barbeary (Wasps) has averaged more defenders beaten per carry than any other forward in the league, making his first appearance in 2021 last weekend vs Newcastle Falcons.
Last Time We Met: 26/12/2020 – Sale Sharks 23 Wasps Rugby 26 – Gallagher Premiership
Marland Yarde’s try out wide, created by Faf de Klerk’s wraparound play, was one of few highlights in a first-half Sale edged 10-3 on the scoreboard.
Charlie Atkinson’s solo break and Tom Cruse’s close-range surge either side of AJ MacGinty’s Sale penalty turned the score-line round for the visitors.
Lima Sopoaga’s boot added to the lead but Yarde’s try made for a nervy close.
The only sour note for Wasps would have been the serious-looking injury to wing Zach Kibirige, who injured himself chasing a hack downfield and had to be withdrawn after a lengthy stoppage.
Likewise, battering-ram back-rower Alfie Barbeary was the catalyst for much of their attacking energy, forcing a turnover and offloading for Cruse’s try, before limping off in the second half with a knee problem.
Both coaches would have bemoaned execution levels, particularly at the line-out where good ball was wasted, but Wasps made the most of their chances to secure the win at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Former Great Britain and England rugby league international Deacon was as sharp an attacking mind as any in his illustrious career, but there were not enough moments of brilliance despite making a game of it late on.
That said, he would have been proud of the skills which brought about the two tries; notably Tom Curry’s hard line and blind offload timed to the fingertips of South Africa playmaker de Klerk, who released the left-edge attack for Yarde to stampede in to score his opener.
Sale Sharks: S James; Luke James, R du Preez, Hill, Yarde; MacGinty, de Klerk (capt); Morozov, van der Merwe, Oosthuizen, Postlethwaite, JP du Preez, Wiese, Curry, D du Preez.
Replacements: Langdon, Harrison, John, Phillips, Dugdale, Cliff, Doherty, Roebuck.
Wasps: Sopoaga; Kibirige, Odogwu, Le Bourgeois, Bassett; Atkinson, Porter; West, Cruse, Toomaga-Allen, Rowlands, Gaskell, Morris, Young (capt), Barbeary.
Replacements: Taylor, Harris, McIntyre, Douglas, T Willis, Robson, Gopperth, de Jongh.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys.