La Rochelle vs Sale Sharks: Quarter-final showdown

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Sale Sharks take on La Rochelle as they aim to reach the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup.

Sharks booked their European last eight place for the first time in 15 years after dismantling Welsh side Scarlets away from home last weekend.

Now they face the difficult task of beating La Rochelle in France, something they have failed to do twice in recent seasons.

La Rochelle knocked out Gloucester to reach the last eight, and having had the upper hand when hosting Sharks on the last few occasions, will be confident of victory on Saturday afternoon.

Team news:

Ronan O’Gara has named six changes to his starting side.

Reeda Wardi, Pierre Bourgarit and Uini Atonio start in a completely changed front row.

Gregory Alldritt is the only other forwards change as he starts in the back row.

Geoffrey Doumayrou returns at outside centre, with French international, Brice Dulin starting at fullback.

Alex Sanderson has named an unchanged starting side for the trip to France.

Akker van der Merwe will be looking to add to his two tries scored against Scarlets as he starts in the front row alongside Bevan Rodd and WillGriff John.

Josh Beaumont captains the side in place of the injured Jono Ross.

Whilst AJ MacGinty, who broke Charlie Hodgson’s individual 2006 Sale record for the most points scored (32) in a European Cup match, starts at fly half.

Last time out:

A dominant second half performance saw La Rochelle overcome Gloucester, 27-16, to book their place in the quarter-final.

An early La Rochelle try came between two Gloucester penalties, before winger, Arthur Retiere, crossed for a second try to build a 15-6 lead.

The Cherry and Whites hit back through Ruan Ackermann to send the teams into the break separated by two points, however, four second half La Rochelle penalties gave the French side an 11-point win.

Last time out Sale recorded their highest ever European score line as they defeated Scarlets 57-14 to advance.

A one sided first half saw Sharks lead 23-0 at the break after two van der Merwe tries combined with 13 points from the boot of MacGinty.

Tidy footwork from MacGinty saw Sharks score again a minute after the restart, although the hosts did eventually get on the score board themselves shortly after.

Sale continued to dominate and increased their advantage with tries from Beaumont, Marland Yarde and a first for Raffi Quirke gave Sharks a comfortable 43-point win in Llanelli.

Last meeting:

La Rochelle 30-23 Sale Sharks, European Champions Cup

Despite leading at the break, Sale had their European dreams ended after La Rochelle asserted second half authority to go through.

Jean-Luc du Preez put Sharks ahead early when he dived over underneath the posts, and with La Rochelle momentarily down to 14, MacGinty’s penalty increased Sale’s lead to 10.

However, the hosts fought back quickly and turned the game around when they scored twice in three minutes.

First winger, Tevita Railevu crossed, before scrum-half, Tawera Kerr-Barlow intercepted a pass to run clear unchallenged.

After a penalty a piece, MacGinty sent Sharks into the break a point ahead with the final kick of the half.

A moment of magic from Kerr-Barlow led to a third La Rochelle try, before a Valery Morozov red card and Chris Ashton yellow reduced Sale to 13.

The French hosts capitalised to score a fourth try, and in the end Curtis Langdon’s score did nothing to change the result.

Last three meetings:

La Rochelle 30-23 Sale Sharks, January 2020 (Champions Cup)

Sale Sharks 25-15 La Rochelle, November 2019 (Champions Cup)

La Rochelle 24-20 Sale Sharks, April 2019 (Challenge Cup)

 

  • La Rochelle vs Sale Sharks kicks off at 3pm GMT and is live on BT Sport 2 and Channel 4.

 

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