Sports Mole previews Friday’s Gallagher Premiership clash between Sale Sharks and Newcastle Falcons, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
In an action-packed weekend in the Gallagher Premiership, Newcastle Falcons will make the short trip to Salford Community Stadium to take on Sale Sharks in the northern derby on Friday.
Last season’s runners-up, Sale, find themselves in second place in the standings, while the Falcons are rooted to the foot of the table with just two points to their name after five matches.
Sale Sharks currently have an impressive 18 points in the Premiership standings and are in the midst of a hot streak, having secured four wins in their last five matches in this competition.
The hosts’ only defeat in this season’s league came against Exeter Chiefs in week three, but they bounced back excellently to claim back-to-back wins over Gloucester Rugby a week later before downing Bristol Bears last weekend.
Against the Bears, Arron Reed, Sam James, Rob du Preez and Joseph Carpenter all crossed the scoreline, while England fly-half George Ford added seven off the boot to see their side to a 27-13 victory at Ashton Gate.
The Sharks are now set to return to their home ground, where they will face a lacklustre Falcons side that they have defeated in each of their last four encounters at this venue.
Meanwhile, after finishing at the bottom of the table last season, the early signs suggest that Newcastle are going to struggle again this term, as they are the only side yet to win a match after five rounds.
The Falcons had not beaten Saracens since 2009, and that record never looked likely to be troubled when the two faced off last weekend when Sarries ran out 50-12 victors at Kingston Park.
Newcastle were 28-7 down at the break, and while an early second-half try by Bryan Byrne gave the Falcons a glimmer of hope, their opponents were too good, running in another three before the final whistle.
However, despite being four years since their last win at this venue, recent history favours the Falcons, having secured victories in two of their last three head-to-head encounters against this opponent.
Sale Sharks Gallagher Premiership form:
Sale Sharks form (all competitions):
Newcastle Falcons Gallagher Premiership form:
Newcastle Falcons form (all competitions):
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After an instrumental performance last week, Ford should retain his place in the starting 15, with Gus Warr joining him in the halves pairing.
Bevan Rodd, Agustin Creevy and Nick Schonert are expected to make up the front three, while Jonny Hill and Ernst Van Rhyn should act as the enforcers in the back row.
Byrne is likely to start this match after coming off the bench last week and should slot in between Adam Brocklebank and Mark Tampin at the front of the pack.
Elliott Obatoyinbo had a solid outing after being shown a yellow card early in the match against Sarries and should keep his spot at full-back with Adam Radwan and Mateo Carreras on the flanks.
Sale Sharks starting lineup: 15. Sam James, 14. Tom Roebuck, 13. Robert du Preez, 12. Sam Bedlow, 11. Arron Reed, 10. George Ford, 9. Gus Warr, 8. Dan Du Preez, 7. Sam Dugdale, 6. Ernst Van Rhyn, 5. Jonny Hill, 4. Cobus Wiese, 3. Nick Schonert, 2. Agustin Creevy, 1. Bevan Rodd
Replacements: 16. Luke Cowen-Dickie, 17. Simon McIntyre, 18. James Harper, 19. Ben Bamber, 20. Rouban Birch, 21. Ben Curry, 22. Joseph Carpenter, 23. Nye Thomas
Newcastle Falcons starting lineup: 15. Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14. Adam Radwan, 13. Matias Moroni, 12. Matias Orlando, 11. Mateo Carreras, 10. Rory Jennings, 9. Hugh O’Sullivan, 8. Callum Chick, 7. Guy Pepper, 6. Sam Cross, 5. Kiren McDonald, 4. Pedro Rubiolo, 3. Mark Tampin, 2. Bryan Byrne, 1. Adam Brocklebank
Replacements: 16. Jamie Blamire, 17. Eduardo Bello, 18. Murray McCallum, 19. Phil Brantingham, 19. John Hawkins, 20. Philip Van Der Walt, 21, Sam Stuart, 22. Cameron Hutchison, 23. Ben Stevenson
We say: Sale Sharks 40-17 Newcastle Falcons
Newcastle have been very poor so far this season, and their recent record at this ground does not inspire much confidence in their chances in this match. Sale come into this match with solid momentum following two convincing wins, and we fancy them to go three-in-three with another victory in this one.
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