TEAM NEWS | Ospreys v Sale Sharks

Hyron Andrews makes his first Sharks start, Arron Reed returns to the XV while Raffi Quirke, Asher Opoku-Fordjour, Ben Bamber and Sam Dugdale are rewarded for exciting cameos against Exeter with starting places as Alex Sanderson names a strong side for Saturday’s Challenge Cup last 16 clash with Ospreys (live on TNT Sports, 8pm KO). 

On the replacements bench, Cam Neild features for the first time since re-signing for the club on a short-term deal. 

Alex has picked a mix of youth and experience in the front-row to face the Welsh side at the Dunraven Brewery Field, in Bridgend, with Opoku-Fordjour joining loosehead Ross Harrison and hooker Agustin Creevy. 

In the second-row, Bamber and new signing Andrews combine for the first time from the start, while in the back-row Sam Dugdale and captain Ben Curry team up once again with JL du Preez at number 8. 

It’s all change at half-back as Quirke starts alongside Rob du Preez, and they’ll have Rekeiti Ma-asi-White and Sam James outside them in the centres. 

Wingers Tom O’Flaherty and Reed and full-back Telusa Veainu make up the rest of the XV. 

On the replacements bench, hooker Tommy Taylor is joined by props Si McIntyre and James Harper. 

Tom Ellis and Neild make up the rest of the forwards replacements, while Nye Thomas, Connor Doherty and Alex Wills will cover the backs. 

Speaking ahead of the game, Alex said: “We’re in it, to win it. It’s really important that we try and maintain some momentum after last week. We’ve got some tactical rotation but we believe we’ve got a strong enough team to compete and give ourselves a shot at going through. 

“Ospreys are looking at this as a means for success and recognition this season. If that is what it means to them, what does it mean to us? We need to make sure we have the motivation and drive that they have. 

“After a big win, I’m interested to see how the lads us that momentum and kick on. Part of me is apprehensive because the lads are stepping into an unknown. Brewery Field will be an inhospitable, partisan cauldron and I’m expecting a proper battle. 

“But I’m rejuvenated and pumped because I feel we’ve made a turn. We’ve proved we have that ability in the group. Those are the standards we expect.” 

Sale Sharks Starting XV:   

15. Telusa Veainu, 14. Arron Reed, 13. Sam James, 12. Rekeiti Ma-asi-White, 11. Tom O’Flaherty, 10. Rob du Preez, 9. Raffi Quirke, 1. Ross Harrison, 2. Agustin Creevy, 3. Asher Opoku-Fordjour, 4. Ben Bamber, 5. Hyron Andrews, 6. Ben Curry ©, 7. Sam Dugdale, 8. JL du Preez.   

Replacements:   

16. Tommy Taylor, 17. Si McIntyre, 18. James Harper, 19. Tom Ellis, 20. Cam Neild, 21. Nye Thomas, 22. Connor Doherty, 23. Alex Wills. 

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