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Sat 08 Oct 3:00pm Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium Attendance: 0
Leicester Tigers vs Sale Sharks
Alex Sanderson is expecting a backlash from Premiership champions Leicester Tigers when his unbeaten Sharks visit Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Saturday (KO 3pm – live on PRTV).
Steve Borthwick’s Tigers went down 51-18 to a rampant Saracens in round four and speaking in his pre-match media briefing ahead of the weekend’s game, Alex says his men are likely to face a very different Leicester team.
He said: “I’m expecting a big reaction whoever plays on Saturday. They are a proud club, especially after what they achieved last season, and they will want to send the message out that last week was a one off.
“That makes them a very dangerous opponent on Saturday.
“They did some uncharacteristic things against Saracens in terms of their strategy and things like how much they kicked. They’re known as a kicking team, but they kicked half as much as they have been in other games.
“Without trying to overthink it or be too smart, I’m expecting them to go back to what has worked for them.”
A big part of Leicester’s success last season was down to fly-half George Ford, who swapped the East Midlands for Salford in the summer.
And Alex says the 29-year-old, who is still recovering from an Achilles injury sustained in the Premiership final, has been offering his insight into his former teammates.
He said: “He has been giving us some help and guidance into their old mentality and how they used to operate. You can pin too much on an assumption but we certainly have some insight and we’re very grateful.
“We’re fully aware that the Leicester side that everyone saw last weekend will not be the Leicester team that plays this weekend in terms of strategy or personnel.”
Alex confirmed that scrum-half Raffi Quirke is available for selection against Leicester after missing the last five months with a hamstring injury.
He added: “We’ve had to be careful with Raffi. He’s an extremely motivated individual and lads like that can have a habit of doing too much.
“We’ve had to look after him and pull him back a little bit. He’s had a couple of setbacks that waylaid his loading. We wanted to get his loading up to a certain level so that if he had to, he could play 70 minutes from the bench.
“It’s not just a case of expecting him to just play for 30. We’re overcompensating for a worst-case scenario but it’s brilliant to see him back.”
• The Champions have had a rude awakening in the opening stages of the season. In attack,
they’ve struggled to create opportunities, making the fewest offloads per 80 minutes in the
Premiership so far (five).
• Leicester Tigers have kicked the leather off the ball in the opening four rounds. They have
averaged 38 kicks in play per 80 minutes for 1,477.25 metres in the same interval. Over the
regular length of a match, this is over 500 more metres than Northampton Saints have
kicked – the team who have kicked the second-most metres.
• Tigers blindside Olly Cracknell crossed the gainline more than any other player in round
four, battering through the defensive line ten times.
• Both Freddie Burns and Jimmy Gopperth have attempted ambitious attacking kicks, each
making three chips so far, the highest total in the league.
• The Sharks are happy to play the long game and keep the scoreboard ticking over with
penalty goals. Per 80 minutes, they have scored more of these than any other side (2.33).
• Statistically speaking, Sale Sharks play the narrowest style of rugby in the Premiership,
making a league-low average of just 93 passes per 80 minutes.
• The Sharks have the highest percentage tackle dominance in the league, making big
collisions in the contact with 10% of their defensive efforts.
• Of the five players who have made the most dominant tackle contacts, four herald from Sale
Sharks: Ben Curry (seven), Jean-Luc Du Preez (six), Akker van der Merwe (five), and Dan du
Preez (five). From last weekend, England prodigy Tom Curry was the top tackler, making 21.
• The Sharks have been a bogey team for the Tigers in recent seasons, with the latter only
winning one of the last seven fixtures between these sides.
• Leicester Tigers may have had a troubled start to the season, but in their last nine
Premiership games, they have won seven.
September 20th 2022
Salford City Stadium
Premiership Rugby Cup
January 30th 2022
AJ Bell Stadium
November 13th 2021
Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium
Premiership Rugby Cup