Quins and Exiles unchanged for Big Game 5
December 28, 2012
Sale fly-half Danny Cipriani is back in the Sharks mix © PA Photos
Sale Sharks host the Worcester Warriors on Friday evening and the home side will be looking for just their second win in the Aviva Premiership this season.
Sale fell to Wasps 25-18 last Sunday but will be buoyed by Jonny Leota's late try which, coupled with Rob Miller's conversion, was enough to earn them a valuable losing bonus point. But they are currently five points adrift at the foot of the Premiership table and are in drastic need of more wins as they look to cut the gap to eleventh-placed side London Irish.
Danny Cipriani was dropped for their match with Wasps but he starts for Sale at fly-half while Tom Brady returns on the wing. Cillian Willis gets the nod at scrum-half meaning there is no place for either half-back from Sunday's loss with Nick Macleod and Will Cliff not included in the 23-man squad. Alasdair Dickinson recovers from injury to take his place on the bench while Dwayne Peel and Cameron Shepherd are also named among the replacements.
And for the Warriors, boss Richard Hill has named an unchanged XV from the one that beat London Welsh last Friday. Alex Grove will make his 100th appearance for Worcester while Rob O'Donnell is named among the replacements in place of George Porter.
Despite Sale's poor league position, Hill is not under-estimating their threat. "We know how hard a game this will be and I am surprised where Sale are in the league with the squad they have got," Hill said. "You look at the Sale line-up and they have got some real stars. They have undoubted star quality and if they gel they are a very good team, on their day they can beat anyone. At the moment that has not happened, but I am sure they are working hard at it.
On Saturday, the ESPN cameras will take in league leaders Harlequins' match against London Irish at a sold out Twickenham in 'Big Game 5.' Quins have kept the faith with the same XV that defeated Northampton last weekend while Rob Buchanan and George Lowe come onto the bench. The Exiles' XV is unchanged but there are a few changes on the bench. Patrick Phibbs, who signed a short-term deal with the Exiles on Friday, is named amongst the replacements alongside George Skivington and Steve Shingler.
Leicester Tigers are also in action as they host Gloucester at Welford Road. Leicester draft in Geoff Parling for the match while Toby Flood makes his 100th Premiership appearance. Steve Mafi is named amongst the replacements and could make his first appearance since November. The Cherry and Whites have changed three in their starting XV. Up front, Huia Edmonds and Darren Dawidiuk swap places at hooker with the Australian international starting this weekend. Meanwhile, Will James comes in for Tom Savage at lock. The only change to the back line sees Martyn Thomas replace Rob Cook at fullback.
Exeter will welcome Bath to Sandy Park on Saturday and the Chiefs have recalled skipper Tom Hayes in place of James Hanks. Phil Dollman returns in the centres at the expense of Ian Whitten. The former Ulsterman and Hanks both drop down to the bench where they will be joined by returning flanker Tom Johnson. Bath have changed five for the match with Matt Banahan, Ben Skirving, Ryan Caldwell, Dave Attwood and Ollie Devoto all starting.
London Welsh host London Wasps in the day's other clash. Exiles boss Lyn Jones has made three changes for the match Seb Jewell moves up from the bench to replace James Lewis in the outside centre berth while James Tideswell, and Alfie To'oala also get the nod. For Wasps, they have made four changes from the one that beat Sale. Tom Varndell comes into the starting line-up, replacing the injured Christian Wade, while the other change is at fly half with Nick Robinson starting in place of Stephen Jones. There are also two changes in the pack with James Cannon earning a start in the second row and Jonathan Poff getting the nod at openside.
And on Sunday, the nomadic Saracens host Northampton Saints at Stadium mk in Milton Keynes, a match that will also be live on ESPN. Ernst Joubert returns to captain the side with Brad Barritt, John Smit and Neil de Kock also coming into the starting side. Steve Borthwick is rested for this match while Jono Ross and Carlos Nieto come into the matchday 23. And the Saints have made four changes from the side that lost to Harlequins last weekend. Dom Waldouck gets the nod at inside centre in place of Tom May while they have also changed their front-row. Alex Waller, Dylan Hartley and Brian Mujati all get the nod while Soane Tonga'uiha, Mike Haywood and Paul Doran-Jones drop to the bench.
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