January 1 2019
Saracens begin 2019 with a Friday night visit to the frozen North, aka Salford. They take on Sale at a time when the Sharks have hit a rich vein of form. In fact Sale haven’t lost in the league since they visited Allianz Park back in November, losing a close game 31-25. Since then they have beaten Northampton, ground out a 7-7 draw with Bath and then produced back to back victories over the festive season, beating Bristol at home before producing their best performance so far with a bonus point away win at Castle Grim last weekend.
Over the past couple of months, Sale have gone from propping up the Premiership table to a respectable 7th, and such are the vagaries of this Premiership Season that they must now be targeting one of the European places before the end of the season.
Sale have recruited well. Following injury, suspension and international call-ups, the new guys are finally available and are starting to gel well with Sale’s established players and their promising youngsters. Sale have one of the World players of the season in Faf de Klerk, now playing at the peak of his powers. Alongside him Rob du Preez is fitting in nicely at fly-half and kicking everything in sight. In the backs, Sale boast a wealth of talent, not least the one and only Chris Ashton who has wasted no time in making his mark in Salford. Sale have deployed him at full-back where he is free to wander and ball-track as only he can do but he is likely to be tested by Sarries’ aerial game and it will be a challenge for him up against his old mate Alex Goode. Denny Solomona on the wing and James O’Connor in the centre provide more stardust. Sale have equal talent amongst the forwards including Jono Ross, Josh Beaumont, the Curry twins Ben & Tom and Rob’s brother Jean-Luc du Preez.
Sarries have not been firing for the past few games but still managed to grind out a win against Worcester last weekend. The lack-lustre performances have not been helped by injuries to some of Sarries’ major players but Billy really should return this week and Liam Williams may also make an appearance (although it is probably too early for Maro). Billy’s ball-carrying has been sadly missed. His big brother Mako has done the lion’s share in recent weeks and will no doubt appreciate some support from his “little” brother. Hopefully Vincent Koch will have recovered from whatever kept him out last week, and it would be good to know what has happened to Figallo and Wiggy. The most worrying sight over the past few weeks, though has been the form of Owen Farrell. Sarries rely so much on their midfield commander to shape their play and it has been hard to watch him struggle so visibly on the field. We can only hope that the collective hug, sent from this message board, has embraced him and renewed his spirit. I fear we will need to manage without Brad Barritt again. Even more so than Faz, Saracens are not the same team without him. He has that “they shall not pass” aura about him that inspires those around him to believe. It is that belief which seems to be wavering at the moment. All things are possible if you only believe!
Sale will probably line up unchanged, something like this:
Ashton, Solomona, James, O’Connor, McGuigan, R Du Preez, De Klerk; Harrison, Webber, John, Beaumont, Philips, Ross, T Curry, J Du Preez
Saracens, injuries permitting, may line up something like this:
Goode, Maitland, Tompkins, Lozowski, Williams/Strettle, Farrell, Wiggy; M Vunipola, George, Koch, Kruis, Skelton, Isiekwe, Earl, B Vunipola.
This will be a very tough one. Sarries will need to find what has been missing these past few weeks but if they can do that, then just maybe it will be a very Happy New Year
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2019:01:14:19:59:41 by Darraghgirl.
1) Glaws were really bad at Kingsholm and made Sale look really good - especially in the defence out wide which is where most of their points cam from
2) Our defence at least was pretty good especially out wide - the first try was a bit of a fluke (could easily have been an offside penalty the other way) I don't see Sale making hay so well
3) The who Dimes row may well have unsettled their preparations - especially with the club focussing on rebutting the journo's allegations
£721.05 (*) donated to the Saracens Foundation due to visits to the Sarries frontpage [www.rugbynetwork.net]
Please read and submit articles for publication. (*) As at October 31, 2018.
Unfortunately they do!