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Aviva Premiership: Sale v Wasps Preview
Our rugby scribe previews Sunday afternoon's Aviva Premiership clash between the Sale Sharks and London Wasps.
Sunday afternoon sees an ever-improving Sale side host the top-of-the-table London Wasps at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Sale v Wasps | Sunday 19 February | AJ Bell Stadium | 17:00
To Win (80 Mins)
Sale 18/10 | Draw 20/1 | Wasps 9/20
After a dreadful start to their domestic campaign, the Sharks of Sale finally seem to be hitting their straps. Four wins from their last four games in all competitions sees Director Of Rugby Steve Diamond's charges going into this weekend's tussle full of confidence, and ready to challenge the log-leading Wasps. Last weekend's 26-24 victory over a spirited Newcastle side - Sale's first domestic victory since October - proved that this team can grind out tough victories, despite the disappointing way they let Newcastle get back into the game, in the second-half. Wasps, however, deliver a much more potent sting than the Falcons, and this weekend's game will surely be a tough one for the home side.
Without having lost many players to Six Nations call-ups, Diamond will be pushing his side to deliver against those who have been disrupted, especially at home. The continuity within their squad could prove pivotal over the coming weeks, as they look to climb the table and perhaps finish in the top half (they currently sit at tenth). The side that ended a ten-match losing run at the end of last year are now eleven points clear of the bottom, but they will struggle to beat a side with the pedigree of Wasps. The Sharks will again look towards the likes of Mike Phillips and Will Addison for inspiration, but should ultimately come up short this weekend.
The London Wasps, on the other hand, sit pretty at the summit of the Aviva Premiership standings, now five points above the second-placed Saracens. The men from the capital may currently be suffering from a poor run - two losses and a draw from their last three games in all competitions - but will know that they have the firepower to take down their hosts.
England call-ups to integral players like Joe Launchbury and James Haskell may have temporarily stalled the Wasps machine, but they will know that they have the potential to get things back on track soon, and continue to push for home playoffs. A host of big name players such as Kurtley Beale and Danny Cipriani have performed admirably for their team so far this season, and head coach Dai Young will again look to them to take this game by the scruff-of-the-neck.
Verdict: Wasps 9/20
Dai Young has a very strong side, who should see oust their hosts by ten or more points come Friday.