TEAM NEWS – Harlequins v Sale Sharks

Alex Sanderson has named an unchanged starting line-up for the trip to Harlequins as his Sharks go in search of another win to follow Friday’s stunning home victory against Premiership champions Leicester Tigers.

The only changes to the matchday squad come on the replacements bench where Bevan Rodd and Joe Carpenter return after injury, and academy scrum-half Nye Thomas replaces the now-retired Joe Simpson.

Speaking ahead of the clash at the Stoop, the Sale Director of Rugby has warned his players will face a very different challenge against a Quins side who suffered a heavy defeat last time out against Northampton.

After a try-scoring performance against the Tigers, Si McIntyre starts again in the front-row alongside Nick Schonert and hooker Akker van der Merwe.

Cobus Wiese and Jonny Hill continue their blossoming second-row partnership and they’re supported again by Tom Curry at 6, captain Ben Curry at 7 and Jean-Luc du Preez at number 8.

Gus Warr and Rob du Preez team up again at half-back with Manu Tuilagi and Tigers man of the match Sam James outside them in the centres.

Arron Reed, Tom O’Flaherty and Luke James continue in a pacy back three.

Scotland hooker Ewan Ashman, England prop Rodd and James Harper make up the front-row replacements, with Josh Beaumont and Jono Ross covering the rest of the forwards.

Thomas, Tom Curtis and fit-again Carpenter complete a strong replacements bench.

Speaking ahead of the match, Alex said this weekend’s challenge will be a far cry from the ‘golden night’ at the AJ Bell Stadium against Leicester.

He said: “It seemed like all the planets aligned against Leicester to allow us to finish off the year in the way that we wanted.

“The difficulty now comes in separating that result and that performance from what we face against Quins. It’s not going to be a continuation of how it finished against Leicester.

“Now we’re facing a Quins team coming off the back of a big loss, with a good coaching team and they’ll be hurting. The challenge is completely different.

“When we played them at home, we were on a five game winning streak and they’d just lost and they came to our ground and physically dominated us.

“How are they going to respond from last week, but how are we going to respond to that defeat. There’s a bit of extra motivation there for us.”

Sale Sharks Starting XV:

15. Luke James, 14. Arron Reed, 13. Sam James, 12. Manu Tuilagi, 11. Tom O’Flaherty, 10. Rob Du Preez, 9. Gus Warr; 1. Simon McIntyre, 2. Akker Van Der Merwe, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Jonny Hill, 6. Tom Curry, 7. Ben Curry (C), 8. Jean-Luc du Preez


16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Bevan Rodd, 18. James Harper, 19. Josh Beaumont, 20. Jono Ross, 21. Nye Thomas, 22. Tom Curtis, 23. Joe Carpenter.

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