Match Preview: Sale Sharks
Glasgow Warriors open their 2019/20 Heineken Champions Cup campaign on Saturday lunchtime, as Dave Rennie’s side welcome Sale Sharks to Scotstoun.
2018/19 season that saw Rennie’s men reach only their second-ever quarter-final
in the competition, the Warrior Nation will be hoping for a repeat performance
at least this time around.
Yet with two
talent-loaded Premiership sides and a threat from across the English Channel
also in Pool Two, the Warriors know they will need to be on top form to
progress to the knockout stages.
First up for
Rennie and company are Sale Sharks, with a squad packed with international
stars making it’s first appearance in Europe’s premier club competition since
the 2016/17 campaign.
the Sharks are shaping up ahead of Saturday’s match:
Sharks form guide
Diamond’s side currently sit fourth in the Premiership table after four rounds
of competition, having recorded two wins and two defeats in their season so
penalty miss from Rob du Preez consigned the Sharks to an 18-16 home defeat by
Gloucester in round one, despite having raced to a 10-0 half-time lead at the
AJ Bell Stadium.
The men from
the north-west of England responded in style seven days later, as they ran in
six tries to dispatch London Irish 41-7 at the Madejski Stadium, before being
edged out away to Bristol in a tight affair in round three.
Wasps last time out sent the Sharks into European action in winning form, with
Rob du Preez kicking 17 points in a 28-18 home success.
O’Connor headlined the departures from the AJ Bell this summer, with the
Australian utility back returning to Super Rugby with the Reds following his
Rugby World Cup commitments.
Warrior Josh Strauss also bade farewell to the English side as he made the
switch to the Bulls, whilst Russian second-rower Andrei Ostrikov swapped Sale
for the French Alps by signing with Grenoble.
and George Nott also departed the AJ Bell, joining Premiership rivals Wasps and
London Irish respectively.
It was with
their summer recruitment that Diamond and his team made the most headlines,
however. Chief amongst the new arrivals was Rugby World Cup-winning
second-rower Lood de Jager, despite suffering an injury in the World Cup final
that will delay his Sale debut.
the trip north from South Africa was a host of Super Rugby stars; the du Preez
brothers, Rob, Dan and Jean-Luc all agreed terms with the Sharks, whilst Akker
van der Merwe and Embrose Papier also made the switch to the AJ Bell.
also a brace of arrivals from newly-relegated Newcastle Falcons – England
flanker Mark Wilson put pen to paper on a season-long loan deal, with full-back
Simon Hammersley joining on a permanent basis.
impressive turn of pace for a front-row forward, South African hooker van der
Merwe has impressed in his outing for the Sharks so far this season. Capped
three times for the Springboks, the 28-year-old’s dynamism is a real threat for
Jono Ross leads from the front week in, week out. Capable of playing across the
back-row, the former Bulls and Stade Francais man is renowned for his work
ethic by opponents across Europe, whilst his ball-carrying is a key aspect to
the Sharks’ attacking platform.
In a squad
packed with lethal finishers, one name in particular will be of note to fans of
Scottish rugby. Whilst he may have missed out on selection for the 2019 Rugby
World Cup, Byron McGuigan’s international record of three tries in his five
Scotland caps to date is an indication as to his abilities on the wing. A
former Warrior, McGuigan’s average of a try every other game for the Sharks is
up there with the best finishers in the Premiership.
encounter will be the first competitive meeting between the two sides since the
2002/03 season, in which Glasgow and Sale met in Pool Three of the Heineken
Jonny Petrie and Jason White, coupled with 16 points from the boot of Tommy
Hayes, gave Glasgow a 26-14 win at Hughenden back in October 2002.
exacted their revenge on Glasgow in the return fixture, however, running in
seven tries to claim a 45-3 victory at Heywood Road.
Ruiz will take charge of Saturday’s match, with the French referee having last
taken charge of the Warriors in their defeat to Exeter back in October 2017.
Descottes and Cedric Marchat will be his assistants on the touchlines, whilst
Patrick Dellac will act as the TMO.