Aviva Premiership: Sale Sharks entertain Saracens in Friday night clash

Last updated: 14th February 2014  

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It is always important to respond, and we always say that it's a sign of a good team when they respond from defeat.

Saracens' David Strettle
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Saracens travel to Sale Sharks aiming to climb back to the top of the Aviva Premiership after being knocked off top spot by Northampton last weekend.

The hosts will be looking to follow up their 24-19 victory over Gloucester and inflict successive defeats on Saracens at the AJ Bell Stadium.

The long-time league leaders head into the clash following a surprise home defeat at the hands of London Irish last time out.

Saints took advantage of that slip-up by edging past Exeter to claim pole position, although it will be a short-lived stay if Saracens topple Sale on Friday night.

"We are looking to respond," Saracens' England international wing David Strettle said.

"It is always important to respond, and we always say that it's a sign of a good team when they respond from defeat."

Saracens are buoyed by the return of several England players from Six Nations duty.

The list includes full-back Alex Goode, centre Brad Barritt and prop Mako Vunipola, while half-backs Charlie Hodgson and Richard Wigglesworth will start against their former club.

Dream start

Meanwhile, Sale boss Steve Diamond feels his side are capable of beating their opponents on home soil; a victory would take them into a play-off position.

They have won three of their last four Premiership fixtures and are unbeaten for six games in all competitions at home - a run that stretches back to November.

"As a squad, we are in a different position now, compared to last year, and the team has got a real belief about it," Diamond told the club's official website.

"We didn't play as well as we could on Friday (against Gloucester), but we got the result, and the icing on the cake was getting the bonus point.

"Friday's game is a huge game for us.

Sale boss Steve Diamond has made three changes - all up front - from the side that accounted for Gloucester last time out.

Prop Eifion Lewis-Roberts replaces Ross Harrison, while hooker Marc Jones starts instead of Tommy Taylor and lock Andrei Ostrikov takes over from Jonathan Mills.

Harrison, Taylor and Mills are all on bench duty, along with England prop Henry Thomas.

Sale: 15 Miller, 14 Brady, 13 Leota, 12 uitupou, 11 Cueto, 10 Cipriani, 9 Peel; 1 Lewis-Roberts, 2 Jones, 3 Cobilas, 4 Ostrikov, 5 Paterson, 6 Braid, 7 Seymour, 8 Gaskell.

Replacements: 16 Taylor, 17 Harrison, 18 Thomas, 19 Mills, 20 Easter, 21 Cliff, 22 Macleod, 23 Arscott.

Saracens: 15 Goode, 14 Ashton, 13 Taylor, 12 Barritt, 11 Strettle, 10 Hodgson, 9 Wigglesworth; 1 Vunipola, 2 George, 3 Stevens, 4 Borthwick, 5 Kruis, 6 Brown, 7 Burger, 8 Wray.

Replacements: 16 Brits, 17 Barrington, 18 Johnston, 19 Botha, 20 Joubert, 21 De Kock, 22 Tomkins, 23 Wyles.

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