Aviva Premiership: Gloucester v Sale Preview

Aviva-Premiership-Gloucester-versus-Sale-Preview

Gloucester will be looking to bounce back from last weekend's heavy defeat to Wasps when they play host to the Sale Sharks on Saturday the 30th of December.

Saturday’s showdown at the Kingsholm has the potential to be the match of the weekend, with Gloucester, in fourth, hosting the eighth-placed Sale. Johan Ackermann’s troops surrendered their top three-spot when they went down to Wasps last week, and can ill-afford to lose more ground at the top of the Premiership. Sale meanwhile, still vying for a playoff spot themselves, are riding high after an emphatic 32-9 win over Bath and will look to take that momentum into Round 12.

Gloucester Rugby v Sale Sharks | Saturday 30 December | Kingsholm Stadium | 17:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Gloucester 2/9 | Draw 23/1 | Sale 32/10

Gloucester
After a solid showing in the first-half of their eventual 24-49 loss at the hands of the Wasps, Gloucester let down their guard for the second-forty. Ackerman’s side seemed set to match the attacking exploits of their hosts early on, only to lose control of proceedings. That defeat perhaps stresses the need for Gloucester to stick to a more pragmatic approach, and avoid being tempted into playing other clubs at their own game.

Sale’s visit this week gives the 'Cherry and Whites' the perfect platform to produce a more measured performance; especially with showers expected in the afternoon. Holding onto possession, and limiting the attacking threats of, among others, the electrifying James O’Connor will be key for the hosts.

So too their attitude without ball-in-hand; indeed, Sale proved against Bath just how deadly they can be against a passive defence, and Gloucester will need to ready themselves for a potential late attacking onslaught from the away side.

Sale Sharks

Sale were wonderful to watch last week; particularly in the second-half. The way they mixed up their play on attack and allowed the likes of O’Connor time and space on the ball made for fantastic viewing. The club clearly wants their players to express themselves which, considering the quality at their disposal, will come off more often than not.

That said, Steve Diamond’s bunch will do well not to play too expansively in what are expected to be tricky conditions this Saturday, while they should also be wary that they may not dominate possession in the same manner they did against Bath a week ago.

The battle at the set-piece will be as important as ever in the wet, and Josh Strauss’ forward pack’s success at the gain-line will have a direct correlation with just how well their backs are allowed to perform.

Verdict: Gloucester 2/9
In what should be a positively absorbing encounter, Gloucester should just about manage to come away with a bonus-point win. The conditions will work in their favour, and allow them to nullify Sale’s offensive capabilities. Still, the Sharks may just have a trick or two up their sleeve… As such, a small strike on the home win is the way to go.

Written by Shaun Goosen for @Hollywoodbets.net

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