Gloucester v Sale: Sharks looking to ‘re-energise’ Premiership campaign ahead of Six Nations break

Both sides are in need of a positive result at Kingsholm on Sunday.
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Sale Sharks are intent on ending their winless run of four games when they travel to Kingsholm to face Gloucester in the Premiership on Sunday. 

Hosts Gloucester have won their last two games in the European Challenge Cup, but are winless in their last nine league games. However, Sale’s director of rugby Alex Sanderson is not taking the task of playing the team sitting ninth in the Premiership lightly.

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He said: “We will expect a real physical battle. They are a good team, and they have just had a couple of wins on the bounce. You can look at their games and look at ours and see some correlation with the fact that the games they have lost, they’ve lost by three or four points and are pushing teams real close.”

Alex Sanderson felt Sale did a lot right against La Rochelle.Alex Sanderson felt Sale did a lot right against La Rochelle.
Alex Sanderson felt Sale did a lot right against La Rochelle.

Sale will, however, feel like the experience of holding their own against the current Champions Cup champions La Rochelle has prepared them for this final Premiership game before the break for the Six Nations.

Sanderson believes there are a lot of positives to take out of their 37-24 defeat as the French side ended Sale’s campaign.

He said: “The stats go to show that we probably could and should have won that game. We won the gain line, had the territory, had the possession, but they capitalised on some soft moments, and I was gutted as I believed we could have won that, and that is saying something, isn’t it? 

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“A few people were out (injured), and we believe that we could have taken them. We were really frustrated, and I was gutted for them because I thought we did a lot right.”

Alex Sanderson (photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images for Sale Sharks)Alex Sanderson (photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images for Sale Sharks)
Alex Sanderson (photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images for Sale Sharks)

A win could potentially lift the Sharks from fifth to second in the league just before the international break. Sanderson sees this time off as vital for him and his squad to achieve their goals set at the start of the campaign.

He said: “There is what it does for us in the league; there is getting over the losing run of games, and there’s the fact that you will rest a bit easier and enjoy your time off a little bit more from the knowledge that you have put yourself in a good position.

“It gives you the time to step back, to change a few things, to re-energise, refresh, and get around 10 starting options back. It is coming at the right time; we are not looking to limp in; we want to sprint home.”

Sale's lock Jonny Hill has been ruled out for the rest of the seasonSale's lock Jonny Hill has been ruled out for the rest of the season
Sale's lock Jonny Hill has been ruled out for the rest of the season
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There are a number of players that will return to the Sale squad as they look to finish the season off strongly, including Dan Du Preez and Cobus Wiese. However, Sanderson confirmed Jonny Hill will not feature again this season following his injury in the La Rochelle match.

Manu Tuilagi is back running in training, is not far off full fitness, and is in contention for England during the Six Nations. The future of the English international is still up in the air, however, as the club looks to confirm their retained list and the players that will join for next season.

Sanderson said: “We’ve talked about it, but we are finding it difficult to fit him in the cap.”

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