It’s great to be back for a first (and hopefully not last) Champions Cup game at the AJ Bell this season!
It’s been a strange tournament for the last couple of years with a revised format – any tournament where we can lose both games we play and make the knockout stages can’t be right, although you won’t hear us complaining. Luckily this season’s version has seen us be more successful, with a win away against today’s opponents Ospreys marking our first away win in the top tier of European competition for far too long.
Sadly, it was not to be against Clermont in France last week – some very strong performances from a number of players couldn’t quite get us over the line, although a second scoreless second half in a row is something of a worrying trend which we’ll hopefully see put right today. There were plenty of outstanding contributions especially from our academy graduates including Bevan Rodd, Ewan Ashman, Tom Curry and Luke James. A losing bonus point from that game still puts us in a strong position in the competition and leaves our fate firmly in our own hands to get into the knockout stages and maybe even a home draw.
Today is also a good chance to build some momentum ahead of our return to domestic action next week at home to league leaders and current employers of our future fly half, Leicester Tigers. Defeat at Bristol in our second game of 2022 was not the result any of us wanted to see and while we looked good in patches it wasn’t enough to overcome a resurgent Bristol in front of a capacity crowd at Ashton Gate on a Friday night.
That brings us nicely on to the news revealed in the club’s financial results that we are hoping to complete our purchase of the AJ Bell in the first quarter of 2022, which would be a fantastic step to improving the matchday experience and bringing more and more fans down to the stadium. Hopefully that purchase will be the first step towards a full AJ Bell rocking week in, week out.
With any luck that will be the case today too, as we welcome Ospreys to the AJ Bell. A team packed full of talent, they’ll have a lot to prove today after a disappointing showing in the tournament so far and it will be a dangerous game for us. A massive welcome also to those who have made the journey over from South Wales for the game – hopefully the entertainment today is worth the trip.
With Sale winning all their home games but one this year we’re hopeful the Sharks can keep up the form and deliver not just the result but a performance to match the first half in Clermont. Regardless of how many points we get in either half, lets keep the volume up all game. Enjoy the game and we’ll see you on this week’s pod to hopefully debrief a win and our continuing European adventures.
Alex, James and Lewis
You can listen to the Shark Tank weekly podcast HERE.