Sale Sharks welcome Northampton Saints in league opener


Alex Sanderson’s Sale Sharks host Northampton Saints at the AJ Bell Stadium as Gallagher Premiership rugby returns to Salford.

The Sharks are out to go one better this season after falling just short of league glory last season, losing 35-25 to Saracens in the showpiece final at Twickenham.

Saints made it to the end of season play-offs, but like Sale also lose out to eventual champions Saracens at the semi-final stage.

Both clubs go into the new season in upbeat moods after promising campaigns last time out.

Sale have been under the stewardship of former Sarries coach Sanderson for two and a half years now and look to be Saracens main challengers again this year, while the Saints are going into their second season under Phil Dowson.

Dowson will have been happy with the club’s fourth place finish last season, considering it was his first year in charge but will be eager to keep progressing with so many sides improving in the off season.

Sale won this fixture 29-22 last season while Saints won the reverse fixture showing how evenly matched these two sides were.

The travelling Saints only won two away fixtures last season, so Dowson will be looking to improve this statistic this time around, while Sale were only beaten by Harlequins at the AJ Bell last term.

Both teams’ seasons are already well under way of course with the Premiership Cup getting started just over a month ago.

Sale finished third in pool two losing to Leicester Tigers and Newcastle Falcons in the process, while Dowson Saints finished second behind Ealing Trailfinders in pool 4.

Both teams recruited well in the off season as they look to build upon strong campaigns last season.

The hosts brought in big names such as Agustin Creevy, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Telusa Veainu but only lock signing Ernst van Rhyn makes the opening day squad.

Van Rhyn joins Jonny Hill in the second row while Du Preez brothers Dan and Jean-Luc start in the back row.

Sale’s strong northern contingent is evident in their starting 15 with eight of the 15 starters coming from the north such as star backs Tom Roebuck and Joe Carpenter.

With George Ford away with England at the World Cup, South African Rob Du Preez starts at 10 after playing at outside centre at the end of last season.

Saints start new signings Tom Pearson and Curtis Langdon while fellow newcomers Tom Seabrook and Elliot Millar-Mills start on the bench.

Langdon will be returning to Sale for the first time after leaving the Sharks in 2022.

Breakthrough Player of the Year Pearson is sure to be a key man on Sunday at the breakdown and in the carry against the powerful Du Preez brothers.

Star signing Burger Odendaal, who still hasn’t made his debut for his new club, is still out after having shoulder surgery.

The opening round encounter kicks-off at 1.30pm at the AJ Bell Stadium on Sunday and you can keep across all the action on Prost International’s channels.

Sale Sharks XV:

  1. Joe Carpenter, 14. Tom Roebuck, 13. Sam James, 12. Sam Bedlow, 11. Tom O’Flaherty, 10. Rob du Preez, 9. Raffi Quirke; 1. Si McIntyre, 2. Tommy Taylor, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Ernst van Rhyn, 5. Jonny Hill, 6. JL du Preez, 7. Sam Dugdale, 8. Dan du Preez.


  1. Ethan Caine, 17. Ross Harrison, 18. James Harper, 19. Cobus Wiese, 20. Josh Beaumont, 21. Gus Warr, 22. Tom Curtis, 23. Arron Reed.

Northampton Saints XV:

  1. George Hendy, 14. Tommy Freeman, 13. Fraser Dingwall © 12. Rory Hutchinson 11. James Ramm 10. Fin Smith 9. Tom James 1. Ethan Waller 2. Curtis Langdon 3. Trevor Davison 4. Alex Moon 5. Alex Coles 6. Angus Scott-Young 7. Tom Pearson 8. Sam Graham


  1. Robbie Smith 17. Alex Waller 18. Elliot Millar Mills 19. Tom Lockett 20. Chunya Munga 21. Archie McParland 22. James Grayson 23. Tom Seabrook

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