TEAM NEWS – Sale Sharks v Bristol Bears

England hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie appears in a Sale matchday 23 for the first time while Ben Curry makes his first start of the season after injury as Alex Sanderson’s men look to back up the round four win against Gloucester with a big performance at Bristol Bears (live on PRTV, KO: 2,30pm). 

Ben starts in the back-row following his try-scoring return from injury as a replacement last week, while Cowan-Dickie will begin the game on the bench with Argentina hooker Agustin Creevy starting again.  

In total Alex has named 15 players who have come through the Sharks academy. 

The Sharks director of rugby has named an unchanged front-row to face Pat Lam’s Bears, with Bevan Rodd and Nick Schonert again starting either side of Argentina hooker Agustin Creevy, who scored on his Sharks debut against Gloucester. 

Josh Beaumont and Cobus Wiese team up in the second-row with the league’s top tackler Ernst van Rhyn – 62 tackles across the four rounds – making up an abrasive back-row with Curry and Dan du Preez. 

Gus Warr continues at scrum-half and he’ll have George Ford for company with the England fly-half taking the ten shirt once again. 

The rest of the backs are unchanged from the Gloucester win, with two-try man Arron Reed and Tom Roebuck on the wings, Sam Bedlow and captain Rob du Preez in the centres and Sam James is once again named in the 15 shirt.

Carpenter is named on the replacements bench alongside scrum-half Nye Thomas as Alex again opts for a 6-2 split. 

Si McIntyre and James Harper are picked as the front-row replacements alongside hooker Cowan-Dickie, while Rouban Birch, Ben Bamber and Sam Dugdale will cover the rest of the forwards. 

Sale Sharks Starting XV:   

15. Sam James, 14. Tom Roebuck, 13. Rob du Preez ©, 12. Sam Bedlow, 11. Arron Reed, 10. George Ford, 9. Gus Warr; 1. Bevan Rodd, 2. Agustin Creevy, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Josh Beaumont, 6. Ernst van Rhyn, 7. Ben Curry, 8. Dan du Preez.   

Replacements:   

16. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17. Si McIntyre, 18. James Harper, 19. Ben Bamber, 20. Rouban Birch, 21. Nye Thomas, 22. Joe Carpenter, 23. Sam Dugdale.   

  • Bristol Bears won their opening two fixtures of the new Gallagher Premiership campaign but have been defeated in the last two rounds at home to Harlequins and away at Exeter.  
  • The Bears have not lost successive Premiership Rugby matches at Ashton Gate since December 2021.  
  • Sale Sharks’ only defeat in the first four rounds was 0-43 at Exeter in Round 3. That defeat ended a run of three successive away wins in Premiership Rugby.  
  • Sale have lost only one of their last seven fixtures against Bristol in Premiership Rugby: 15-32 at Ashton Gate in January 2022.  
  • The Sharks are bidding to win back-to-back matches at Ashton Gate for the first time. 

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