Sunday, 31 March 2013

FIRA-AER U18 Championship Update

Tigers prop Neale Farthing was an unused substitute as England retained their FIRA-AER U 18 European Championship in front of 15,000 fans in Grenoble's Stade des Alpes.  Farthing started the first match of the tournament as England routed Portugal 82-8, being replaced after 60 minutes, and came off the bench in England's 25-12 semi final victory over Scotland.

He was joined in France by Welsh wing wizard Rhys Williams.  Left wing Williams was an ever present in the Wales side that finished 5th with big wins against Portugal, 45-0, and Georgia, 50-0, following after a loss to Scotland in the first round ended their hopes of winning the tournament.  Williams grabbed a try in each of the Portugal and Georgia games.

Also on show was Francois Fontaine the young outside back from Clermont who was part of the player exchange programme between the two clubs and came off the bench for the U 18s in their final league match of the season away to Northampton.  Fontaine was another ever present playing every minute of the tournament in Les Bleus 13 shirt as they beat Italy 32-0 in the first round, Ireland 23-18 in the semi finals and as they lost the final 22-27 to England.  Fontaine grabbed two tries in the tournament, one each against Italy and England.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

7th Heaven as Tigers Savage Saints

Tigers stormed to their 7th successive win again the Saints and the second consecutive bonus point win at Franklin’s Gardens after a dashing second half performance saw them score 4 tries to win 36-8, a record victory at the Gardens in the Premiership era.  Tigers lead 12-3 after 4 Toby Flood penalties in the first half but really cut loose in the second half as we look to cement a 5th straight home Premiership semi final.

Mat Tait was excellent throughout, his dab through at the end of the first half would have been genius if it worked but was folly as it failed.  There was much mirth in the week as Tait was described as “fast improving” by the Leicester Mercury, well I’m still not convinced about fast but he certainly is improving!  Claiming all the high balls that came his way he was also crucial to winning several of the rucks outwide and his sweeping behind the attack help keep the ball alive and create the 3rd try before grabbing the final one for himself.

The real difference between today and last week was the intensity of the attacking ruck and the speed of the ball that followed.  With fast ball on a dry track the Awesome Foursome of Youngs-Flood-Allen-Manu was devastating as Tigers attacked both inside and out with both the forwards and the backs. 

The forwards were superb today, they stopped Northampton’s rolling maul, which devastated Wasps the week before, without much bother and edged a tight scrum battle.  But there rucking was amazing and their carrying Stakhanovite.  With Ed Slater, Jordan Crane and Tom Youngs the pack does not want for carriers, and with Cole, Parling and Ayerza it is not short of ruckers either; though I would not want to pigeon hole either group as incapable of the other.  The hands by JC and Ayerza for Manu’s first try were a joy to behold as they drew in 3 men to leave Manu with an easy finish, or at least an easy for Manu which is not quite the same thing!

Tom Croft and Julian Salvi were both supreme in the loose today; Croft rolling back the years by standing up Manoa and going round him in the proverbial phone box in the first ten minutes, as well claiming the kicks with imperious authority.  Salvi was his usual hog at the breakdown, even if our first turnover didn’t come until the second half, and his line cutting back through a gaping dog leg set up the ruck before JC and Ayerza’s hands put Manu through for that first try. 

The second was a classic example of Tigers ball control as we went through 12 phases in 2 minutes with the play moving from a line out on the left hand 10 metre line to the right hand corner flag before Youngs and Flood whipped the ball out to Tuilagi who brushed off the attentions of the greying Tom May before diving for the line.  Tuilagi’s burst was clearly the most important but huge emphasis must go to Waldrom who carried 5 times in the move and Ed Slater who carried twice and rucked every other time too.  I think Waldrom the definition of an impact replacement!

All that whilst down to 14 men too.

The third try was sloppier than the 2nd but perhaps more fluid as a ruck barely formed and the ball was kept alive at every opportunity.  Youngs tapped a penalty quickly before Tuilagi fed Mulipola who came like a steam train on a cracking slightly inward angle; he in turn fed Flood on his shoulder as Tigers swept into the 22.  Tait swept the ball up to Youngs who passed to Waldrom taken the ball into contact.  But not for long as it rolled out to Salvi before a ruck could be formed; the Australian feigned to go right then beautifully stepped Courtney Laws with his left and the merest hint of a dummy too.  Tait was then on hand again to take the ball at the base and draw the last man allowing Niall Morris a dance round the side to confirm the score.

In truth the 4th should have come quicker than it did.  Crisp passing from Smith and Tuilagi gave Croft the room to spread his legs and out gun Ryan Lamb, a familiar and with next season in mind worrying sight, if Croft had looked around/not been so greedy he’d have seen Matt Smith roaring in on a support line that surely would have ended under the posts.  It mattered not as James Wilson missed his attempted interception on Ben Youngs’s huge billowing pass and Mat Tait could pick up the crumbs and finish the move.

In many ways the game wasn’t so different to the Exeter one last week, this time we took our chances and never looked back whilst last week we were slightly sloppier and it allowed the Chiefs to envelop us.  We will need the same domination of the breakdown and the gainline next week as well as the same accuracy if we are to do for Toulon the way we’ve just done Northampton.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Tigers Unchanged for Saints

Tigers name an unchanged team from last week's victory at Exeter as they prepare to travel to Northampton and face the Saints.  Cockerill has decided his star players need game time to shake off the rust more than rest in preparation for the bug Heineken Cup Quarter Final next week, I hope it doesn't bite him in the arse like it has in the past. 

Manu Tuilagi makes his 50th start for the first team whilst Niall Morris makes his 30th start and Adam Thompstone earns his club tie on his 20th appearance for the club in his debut season.  In the second row Ed Slater makes his 40th start for the club and his 30th start in the Premiership.  At tighthead Dan Cole makes his 14th start of the season, whilst not exactly a traditional milestone this is in fact the most games in a season he has started for the first team.

Northampton make 2 changes from the side which gained a 4 try win away to Wasps as Tom Wood comes into the back row in his England position of 8, replacing South African GJ Van Velze, and Tom May replaces former Wasp Dom Waldouck at 12.

Tigers have won their last 6 against Northampton but that includes only one win at Franklin's Gardens.  Hopefully we can keep that run going!

15 Mathew Tait
14 Niall Morris
13 Manu Tuilagi
12 Anthony Allen
11 Adam Thompstone
10 Toby Flood (c)
9 Ben Youngs
1 Marcos Ayerza
2 Tom Youngs
3 Dan Cole
4 Ed Slater
5 Geoff Parling
6 Tom Croft
7 Julian Salvi
8 Jordan Crane

16 Rob Hawkins
17 Logovi'i Mulipola
18 Martin Castrogiovanni
19 Thomas Waldrom
20 Graham Kitchener
21 Sam Harrison
22 George Ford
23 Matt Smith

15 Ben FODEN
14 James WILSON
13 George PISI
12 Tom MAY
11 Jamie ELLIOTT
10 Stephen MYLER
2 Dylan HARTLEY (capt)
4 Courtney LAWES
5 Christian DAY
6 Samu MANOA
8 Tom WOOD

17 Alex WALLER
18 Brian MUJATI
21 Martin ROBERTS
22 Ryan LAMB
23 Luther BURRELL

Monday, 25 March 2013

Tigers win Blandy Park Kick Fest

4 penalties from the boot of captain Toby Flood were enough to see of a physical Exeter side 12-9 at Sandy Park.  Flood was a perfect 4/4 from the tee whilst his opposite number Northern Irish Gareth Steenson left a last second penalty agonisingly short to leave both himself and his team 3 points off the pace.

This was my first visit to Sandy Park and it has to win the award for most difficult ground to find, despite it looming large over the M5.  I came off at Junction 30 and followed a sign to “”Rugby Parking”, that took me past the ground through a small newly built estate and then back past the ground again on the same road before depositing me back at the Junction 30 roundabout.  Needing some diesel and a toilet break I ducked into the motorway services and asked for some directions.  A pretty simple “Go over the roundabout, up the hill then it’s on your left” was the reply.  

Thankfully now in possession of an empty bladder and a full tank, rather than the other way round, I restarted my intrepid journey to find somewhere to park the car.  Oh but it were as simple as the shop assistant said!  I know some of our Kiwi players find the concept of traffic lights on the Victoria Park roundabout confusing but they have seen nothing until they have attempted to go straight on from the Exeter services!  I was stopped on red at my entrance, the traffic to my right was also stopped on red as was the traffic past a large yellow bow where both of us wanted to go, the traffic trying to join at that entrance was also stopped on red.  The only people with the green light seemed to be the only road with no one on it.  But that’s not the end of it.  Eventually the traffic actually on the roundabout was allowed to leave, with the traffic straight in front where I wanted to go moving and also the traffic from my right sweeping in behind it.  But when it came to my turn to come on to the roundabout the lane to go straight on was again on red and already queuing back into the yellow traffic box!  I was there in plenty of time so decided to be valiant and not block the road, but after seeing the exact same thing repeat 5 minutes later, still waiting to get on to the infernal roundabout I chanced my arm and got myself into the madness.  Another lifetime went by and I managed to finally leave the roundabout and find the industrial estate to park.  £3 was not too bad for parking, not the usual free street parking I prefer but Exeter City Council seemed determined to stop you from doing that and given the trouble I’d had finding a signed car park less than a mile from the services I didn’t much fancy poking about in the back streets to find where the restrictions ended.

In all the confusion to find the parking I’d got thoroughly lost so after a brief chat with the car park’s charity bucket shaker I was walking in the direction of Sandy Park, which some how I’d managed to get on left.  It gets a good reputation, Sandy Park, but I can’t really see why.  It’s ruinously expensive to do anything, £22 to stand at pitch level with no elevation, £27 to stand on the cowshed terrace at the side, £43 to sit in the “Grandstand”, £5 for a pasty and the stands look and feel like they’re made out of scaffolding.  No wonder they make a profit on those prices! 

Anyway back to the match and Tigers played pretty poorly in all honesty.  We managed to carve out 2 or 3 very good chances; Mat Tait managing to butcher the simplest chances near the end of the first half before Tom Croft was turned over stretching for the line, ESPN showed he may have got the ball onto the line but the TMO was not called for, and in the second half Castro had try ruled out for a block by fellow prop Logovi’i Mulipola that was pretty marginal, again the option of letting the try stand and checking it on the TMO was not used. 

There was a gale blowing into Tigers faces in the first half, holding the high balls up well and for once allowing our chasers the chance to compete for the ball.  Despite the wind we had the vast majority of the territory and should have had the wit to break down a determined and stodgy Exeter side.  Tigers’ first half points came from Exeter going off side after a Ben Youngs break, Hoani Tui turning in at a scrum and for not rolling away from the ruck whilst Tigers were faffing about going side to side inside the Chiefs’ 22.

The second half was a very drab affair as neither side could break down the other and neither side wanted to risk much it was a nip and tuck game.  Tigers had the try from Castro ruled out and that would have probably blown the game open but instead had to settle for another Toby Flood penalty when Exeter were caught off side again.  The wind would come back to be Tigers friend again as the last seconds on the clock ticked past and Steenson was lining up a kick to tie the game.  It had been awarded after the referee decided it was only Castro not binding in a scum roughly ten meters out and ten meters in from touch.  Steenson is said to know more about the winds of Exeter than the Met Office but this time his touch deserted him and he left his kick short.

If only that was the end of it!  Tom Croft, perhaps not aware of or not trusting the countdown clock, carried the ball back out into play rather than hoofing it off the end or putting down over the line.  The Tigers players piled into the ruck to secure possession and not waste the previous 80 minutes of effort.  It was done and Ben Youngs had the ball at the back of the ruck, but again Tigers couldn’t get the damn thing out, this time players scrambling to the ruck blocked Youngs passing and kicking options as he was swallowed up by the Chiefs defence.  Again the forwards smashed their way in to retain possession and retain the valuable 4 points but this time they could not.  Thankfully referee Wigglesworth decided that rather than holding on or not rolling or going off our feet this was merely a pile up and the game was ended.

Those 4 points, combined with Sunday’s results have pushed us back into 2nd place and a home semi final slot.  We never looked like breaking Exeter down enough to secure 4 tries and aren’t in competition with them this season so there point means nothing to us, so whilst that was a dreadful Tigers attacking performance it hasn’t really cost us any points.  To beat Toulon, or Saracens or Harlequins, i.e. to win a trophy, surely we have to offer better than that but then again we didn’t against Toulouse and the Awesome Foursome of Youngs-Flood-Allen and Manu remain undefeated domestically.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Flood of Internationals return for Tigers

All 8 of Tigers players involved with this years Six Nations are recalled to the side as Tigers travel down to Exeter looking to maintain their push for a home play off semi final.  England players Manu Tuilagi, Toby Flood, Ben Youngs, Tom Croft, Geoff Parling, Tom Youngs and Dan Cole all start whilst Italian international Martin Castrogiovanni returns from the injury that ruled him out of his nations victory over Ireland to take his place on the bench.  

Tigers also see Anthony Allen return from the injury he sustained away to Quins to complete the Awesome Foursome in our midfield with Youngs, Flood and Tuilagi. Jordan Crane is preferred at number 8 to Thomas Waldrom, who started the last match at home to Sale, and completes a superbly balanced back row with Julian Salvi and Tom Croft on the flanks.

Toby Flood captains the side for the first time ahead of previous captains Jordan Crane and Tom Croft whilst Geordan Murphy and Louis Deacon are out injured.  Flood is a natural leader and it will be interesting to see how he handles being the main man; particularly when he has to make the call on whether to go for goal or kick to the corner.  Traditionally he favours the corner which is partly responsible for Tigers scoring more tries than any other Premiership side.

Mat Tait will play his 20th game and earn his club tie whilst Rob Hawkins is in line for his 50th appearance since he joined from Bath, should he feature from the bench.

Exeter make one change from the side that beat Harlequins at the Stoop as Hoani Tui replaces Alex Brown at tighthead prop.  Ex-Tiger Chris Whitehead comes onto the bench in place of Exeter stalwart Neil Clark.

Tomorrow's referee will be Tim Wigglesworth from Hull.  Wigglesworth has already refereed 3 Tigers games this season including the bonus point victory in the reverse fixture at Welford Road in September.  Whilst he has given 12 cards in 14 games this season he has only actually had to withdraw a card in 5 games as 4 cards (3 red and a yellow) came in the Tigers v Bath game and another 3 (red and 2 yellows) came in the Bath v Gloucester game.

Leicester Tigers
15 Mathew Tait
14 Niall Morris
13 Manu Tuilagi
12 Anthony Allen
11 Adam Thompstone
10 Toby Flood (c)
9 Ben Youngs
1 Marcos Ayerza
2 Tom Youngs
3 Dan Cole
4 Ed Slater
5 Geoff Parling
6 Tom Croft
7 Julian Salvi
8 Jordan Crane

16 Rob Hawkins
17 Logovi'i Mulipola
18 Martin Castrogiovanni
19 Thomas Waldrom
20 Graham Kitchener
21 Sam Harrison
22 George Ford
23 Matt Smith

Exeter Chiefs
15 Luke Arscott
14 Jack Nowell
13 Sireli Naqelevuki
12 Phil Dollman
11 Matt Jess
10 Gareth Steenson
9 Haydn Thomas
1 Carl Rimmer
2 Jack Yeandle
3 Hoani Tui
4 Dean Mumm
5 Damian Welch
6 Ben White
7 James Scaysbrook
8 Richard Baxter (c)

16 Chris Whitehead
17 Brett Sturgess
18 Craig Mitchell
19 James Hanks
20 Dave Ewers
21 Will Chudley
22 Henry Slade
23 Ian Whitten

The game is live on ESPN and kick off is 5 PM.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Neale Appeal

Congratulations to Academy prop Neale Farthing who has today been named in England's squad for the FIRA-AER Under 18s European Championship.  England start their campaign on Friday March 22nd against Portugal in the small town of Rumilly, near Annency.  

The tournament is an 8 team knock out format with Georgia and Portugal joining the traditional 6 Nations after winning a qualifying tournament.  Match winners progress towards the trophy whilst the losers play off for the minor places, every nation playing 3 games.  England will face either Wales or Scotland in the second round mid week before the Finals next Saturday at Grenoble's 20,000 capacity Stade des Alps.

England Squad  

Andrew Boyce (Worcester Warriors & Kings Worcester)
Andrew Hughes (Sale Sharks & Hartpury College)
Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby & Bryanston School)
Charlie Hewitt (Exeter Chiefs & Ivybridge College)
Lewis Boyce (Leeds Carnegie & Prince Henry’s Grammar)
Jack Walker (Leeds Carnegie & Prince Henry’s Grammar)
James Chisholm (Harlequins & Brighton College)
Jordan Onjoaife (Northampton Saints & Stowe School)
Josh Peters (Northampton Saints & Oundle School)
Matt Bolwell (Exeter Chiefs & Truro College)
Luke Chapman (Exeter Chiefs & Truro College)

Neale Farthing (Leicester Tigers  & Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth College)
Paul Hill (Leeds Carnegie & Prince Henry’s Grammar)
Sam James (Saracens & Bishops Stortford)

George Perkins (Saracens & Oaklands College)
Howard Packman (Northampton Saints & Moulton College)
James Mitchell (Sale Sharks & Lymm School)
Josh Sharp (Saracens & Oaklands College)
Josh Skelcey (Northampton Saints & Moulton College)
Louis Clayton-Molloy (London Wasps & Harrow School)
Nick Tompkins (Saracens & Oaklands College)
Stuart Townsend (Exeter Chiefs & Ivybridge College)
Tom Fowlie (London Irish & St Pauls Catholic College)
Tom Howe (London Wasps & Shiplake College)
Lucas Slowik (Bristol Rugby & Filton College)
Rory Jennings (Bath Rugby & Bryanston School)

Monday, 18 March 2013

7s Heaven as JP Morgan Series reveals draw

Premiership Rugby has released the draw for next seasons JP Morgan 7s series.  In a change to the previous format all three groups will be played over the same weekend, rather than 3 weekends as before, with the finals coming the weekend after.  This will be the first Rugby broadcast under the new TV deal with BT. 

Tigers are drawn in a pool with relegation rivals Sale and London Welsh as well as hosts Northampton to be played on Friday August 2nd.  The promoted side replaces the relegated one so the likelihood is that Newcastle will replace one of Sale or Welsh.

Should Tigers break the habit of a lifetime and actually do well in this competition the finals are in Bath on Friday the 9th of August. 

Pool A
Thursday, August 1
Kingsholm, Gloucester Rugby
Pools: Bath Rugby, Exeter Chiefs, Gloucester Rugby, Worcester Warriors
KO: 7.30pm

Pool B
Friday, August 2
Franklins Gardens, Northampton Saints
Pools: Leicester Tigers, London Welsh, Northampton Saints, Sale Sharks
KO: 7.30pm

Pool C
Saturday, August 3
Allianz Park, Saracens
Pools: Harlequins, London Irish, London Wasps, Saracens
KO: 7.30pm

Series Final
Friday 9th August
The Recreation Ground, Bath Rugby
Pools: Top 2 from each pool
KO: 7.00pm

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Extras! Extras! Read all about it!

The latest rumours are that two of Tigers younger fringe players in Jonny Harris and Alex Lewington are to leave the club in the summer and join London Irish.  Whilst it is disappointing to lose young players especially ones who haven’t really had a chance this post isn’t really about that. 

It’s about the chance to earn those opportunities through good form in the Extras.

The A league has been emasculated and is now a joke.  There are only 5 games and they were finished by October 15th.  What sort of competition is only 5 games and over barely 7 weeks into a 40 week season?  Last year the competition was shifted to its current format because of the World Cup’s impact on squad depth, the original idea was for it to shift back to the 10 game season it had previously enjoyed but this was blocked by clubs like London Wasps and London Irish who don’t run large enough squads to fulfil these fixtures properly. 

The first question is do we even need an A league?  The answer is surely yes as second team rugby is still the best way to bring through younger players and keep your more senior reserves match fit.  Loan spells in the second division are also crucial for player’s development as they are full on serious rugby with winning the only aim, but second team rugby where players can almost embarrass the coach into giving them a chance with their form is the best way to make that final step from junior player into first team player.

So what form of second team competition should we have?  We can’t just disregard the Wasps and Irish worries of small squads as we can’t force anyone to give us a game.  Also the sort of 80-5 thrashings when Leeds sent their U-19s doesn’t really help anyone.  Instead we can recognise that England is actually a small country, the furthest game would be Newcastle to Exeter which is only 6 hours travel, and get rid of these geographic conferences that means Tigers have to travel to Sale and Newcastle every year but never face Bath or Harlequins.  If we had two divisions based on talent rather than geography the quality would rise as the best sides would face each other more often than once a year in the play offs.  Or even better than that the clubs that don’t wish to participate don’t and the rest of us (perhaps Harlequins, Saracens, Northampton, Gloucester, Bath, Exeter, Newcastle and Leicester) play a single-pool double round-robin i.e. a straight league of 14 games.

Those 14 games would give the fringe players like Harris or Lewington the chance to push their claims for the first team in front of their won fans and with their own team mates all year round.  It would aid club togetherness as young players aren’t being harried from pillar to post to fulfil dual registration commitments.  It would also give clubs more fixtures to play at their grounds and attract fans to.  When the A league was worth its salt we were pulling in crowds of 5 thousand with 12 thousand coming to the final. 

But getting PRL to agree to anything that might cost any money is an ambitious proposition so the chances of any change coming about are slim to none.  However we can still help ourselves by arranging more Extras fixtures outside the A league.  I’m sure that Saints and Gloucester would like return fixtures, and surely we could get friendlies at this level against Exeter, Quins and Sarries?  Those sides all have biggish squads and academies that have similar needs to ours.  This is before we get to the Welsh regions.  Llanelli is furthest away and only 4 hours on the road, Newport just over 2 hours, these sides all have academies and large squads with their Welsh Premiership feeder clubs; we could arrange games with these sides just as we did in the amateur era.

Players like Michael Noone need to play and if the A league isn’t going to provide the games we have to go out and sort them ourselves rather than rely on PRL to solve our problems for us.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Flood to face Italians

Stuart Lancaster makes 5 changes to his England side for the challenge of Italy this Sunday, naming 7 Tigers in the 23.  Tigers' Toby Flood is restored to the line up after Owen Farrell failed to recover from a leg injury suffered in the France test match, while his clubmate Ben Youngs drops to the bench in favour of Stuart Lancaster's favourite Danny Care.  Given that Youngs and Flood are one of the most feared half back partnerships in world Rugby it seems bizarre to go with the Yorkshireman, especially given Youngs's outstanding form.

Manu Tuilagi earns his 20th cap at the age of only 21 in the midfield whilst Tigers also have 3 players named in the forward pack.  Tom Youngs is restored to the starting line up after being dropped for the France match, whilst I'm happy for the bulldozing Youngs I wonder what Lancaster expected from Hartley in his 50 minutes against the French.  Dan Cole and Geoff Parling continue their ever present 6 Nations in the front and second row respectively.

Returning to International Rugby after almost a year's absence with injury is flanker Tom Croft.  Croft was in world class form last weekend against Sale and his return to the fold is thoroughly deserved.

England Team to face Italy
15. Alex Goode (Saracens, 9 caps)
14. Chris Ashton (Saracens, 32 caps)

13. Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 19 caps)
12. Brad Barritt (Saracens, 14 caps)
11. Mike Brown (Harlequins, 14 caps)

10. Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers, 55 caps)
9. Danny Care (Harlequins, 39 caps)

1. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 7 caps)
2. Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 7 caps)
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 38 caps)
4. Joe Launchbury (London Wasps, 7 caps)

5. Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers, 15 caps)
6. James Haskell (London Wasps, 48 caps)
7. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, capt, 15 caps)
8. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 16 caps)

16. Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 45 caps)
17. David Wilson (Bath Rugby, 24 caps) 
18. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 8 caps) 
19. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 18 caps)
20. Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers, 36 caps) 
21. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 31 caps) 
22. Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby, 1 cap)
23. Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby, 2 caps)

Thursday, 7 March 2013

9 Tigers called for National Service

On a busy day for announcements no fewer than 9 Tigers academy players have been called up to represent their country at various levels.  

Harry Wells retains his place for England Under 20s at blindside flanker as they face Italy in Northampton on Friday, Henry Purdy is forced to the bench as Exeter's Jack Nowell returns from Premiership duty, notably outside centre Mark Jennings was the Sale winger beaten for pace by Ed Slater for his try from the halfway line last Saturday.  On the opposing side will be Italian tighthead Tiziano Pasquali.

Scott Steele returns to Scotland Under 20s after missing last year's Junior World Cup with a broken leg, he replaces Sam Hidalgo-Clyne in the 23 who misses out with an ankle injury.

4 Tigers have been selected for England Under 18s after their impressive season in the inaugural Premiership Academies league.  They face Wales in Swansea on Sunday in another warm up for the FIRA-AER Under 18s Championship to be held in France in 2 weeks.  Neale Farthing retains his place on the bench, after being a second half sub last week, where he is joined by scrum half George Tresidder, originally from Derby he missed the early action in the Academy league with an injury but is now back to full fitness.  In the starting line up are versatile outside back Tom Hudson, playing full back after predominantly featuring for Tigers at centre, and openside flanker Will Owen.  Owen bagged a try in each of the last three matches for the U-18s so is in cracking form.

The final player selected is Tigers EPDG player Oliver Fewtrell who has been named in England's Schools and Clubs Under 18s for their match against Bedford Blues Academy Under 19s.  This squad is meant to be selected from players who are not full time rugby players and was the route taken by Henry Purdy last season before he signed with the club full time.

England U20
15 Ollie Devoto (Bath Rugby)
14 Ben Howard (Worcester Warriors)
13 Mark Jennings (Sale Sharks)
12 Sam Hill (Exeter Chiefs)
11 Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)
10 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
9 Callum Braley (Bristol Rugby)
1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (Northampton Saints)
2 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs)
3 Scott Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)
4 Elliott Stooke (Gloucester Rugby)
5 Dominic Barrow (Leeds Carnegie)
6 Harry Wells (Leicester Tigers)
7 David Sisi (London Irish)
8 Jack Clifford (Harlequins) (c)

16 Nathan Morris (London Wasps)
17 Alex Lundberg (London Wasps)
18 Danny Herriott (Northampton Saints)
19 Tom Jubb (Saracens)
20 Gus Jones (London Wasps)
21 Alex Day (Northampton Saints)
22 Tom Stephenson (Northampton Saints)

23 Henry Purdy (Leicester Tigers)

Italy Under-20s
15 Angelo Esposito (Benetton Treviso)
14 David Michael Odiete (Zebre Rugby)
13 Michele Campagnaro (Benetton Treviso)
12 Giovanni BEnvenuti (Marchiol Mogliano)
11 Filippo Guarducci (Marchiol Mogliano)
10 Edoardo Padovani (Marchiol Mogliano)
9 Simone Marinaro (Fiamme Oro)
1 Luca Scarsini (Cammi Calvisano)
2 Alain Moriconi (UR Capitolina)

3 Tiziano Pasquali (Leicester Tigers)
4 Alessio Zdrilich (Cammi Calvisano)
5 Michele Andreotti (CammI Calvisano)
6 Andrea Trotta (Nuova Rugby Roma)
7 Jacopo Salvetti (Cammi Calvisano) (c)
8 Maxime Mbanda (Rugby Grande Milano)

16 Luca Conti (L'Aquila Rugby)
17 Matteo Zanusso (M-Three San DonĂ )
18 Simone Ferrari (Crociati Rugby)
19 Vittorio Marazzi (Crociati Rugby)
20 Gianmarco Vian (M-Three San DonĂ )
21 Marcello Violi (Crociati Rugby)
22 Filippo Buscema (UR Capitolina)
23 Andrea Bettin (Petrarca Padova)

Scotland U20
15 Ruaridh Young (Edinburgh Accies)
14 Damien Hoyland (Boroughmuir)
13 Chris Auld (Gala)
12 Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors)
11 Rory Hughes (Scotland 7s/Stirling County)
10 Tommy Allan (unattached)
9 Ali Price (Bedford Blues)
1 Shawn Muir (Hawick)
2 Russell Anderson (Gala)
3 D'arcy Rae (Ayr)
4 Ruaridh Leishman (Stirling County)
5 Jonny Gray (captain) (Glasgow Warriors/Currie)
6 Alex Henderson (Boroughmuir)
7 Will Bordill (Sale Sharks)
8 Adam Ashe (Glasgow Warriors/Stirling County)

16 Callum Black (Edinburgh Accies)
17 Jamie Bhatti (Stirling County)
18 Phil Cringle (Edinburgh Rugby/Stewart's-Melville FP)
19 Cameron Turner (Aberdeen Grammar)
20 Tommy Spinks (London Scottish)

21 Scott Steele (Leicester Tigers)
22 Robbie Fergusson (Ayr)
23 Keith Buchan (Boroughmuir)

England Under 18
15 Tom Hudson (Leicester Tigers & Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth College)
14 Zach Kibirige (Newcastle Falcons & Yarm School)
13 Nick Carpenter (Bristol Rugby & Filton College)
12 David Buck (Bath Rugby & Sherborne)
11 Nathan Earle (Saracens & Oaklands College)
10 Sam Olver (Northampton Saints & Oundle School)
9 Stuart Townsend (Exeter Chiefs & Ivybridge College)

1 Alex Lundberg (London Wasps & Hampton School)
2 Cameron Neild (Sale Sharks & Manchester Grammar)
3 Paul Hill (Leeds Carnegie & Prince Henry’s Grammar)
4 Tom Ellis (Bath Rugby & Millfield School)
5 Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby & Bryanston School)
6 Lewis Ludlow  (Gloucester Rugby & Hartpury College)

7 Will Owen (Leicester Tigers & Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth College)
8 Hayden Stringer (Saracens & Oaklands College)

16 Tom Woolstencroft (Bath Rugby & Bryanston School)
17 Luke Chapman (Exeter Chiefs & Truro College)

18 Neale Farthing (Leicester Tigers & Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth College)
19 Jordan Onjoaife (Northampton Saints & Stowe School)
20 James Chisholm (Harlequins & Brighton College)

21 George Tressider (Leicester Tigers & Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth College)
22 Brett Herron (London Irish & Wellington College)
23 Nick Tompkins (Saracens & Oaklands College)

England U18 Clubs & Schools squad
Thomas Duggan (Blackheath RFC, Dartford Grammar School)
Finlay Hillicks (Harlequins, College of Richard Collyer)
Ollie Hodgson (Middlesbrough, Gosforth Academy, Newcastle Falcons)
Dan Hyam (Mellish RFC, Arnold Hill Academy, Nottingham RFC)
Charlie Kingham (Saracens, Felsted School)
Simon Linsell (Gloucester Rugby, Marling School)
Harry McCartney (London Wasps AASE, The Henley College)
Charlie Piper (Harlequins, Cranleigh School)
Dan Preston-Routledge (Leeds Carnegie, Prince Henry’s Grammar School)
Sam Smith (Worcester Warriors, Old Swinford Hospital)
Alistair Wade (Camberley RFC, Godalming College)
Aston Whitlow (Alnwick RFC, Gosforth Academy, Newcastle Falcons)

Sean Brown (Darlington Mowden Park, Newcastle Falcons)
Colin Dickson (Worcester Warriors, Ellesmere College)

Oliver Fewtrell (Derby RFC, Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Leicester Tigers EPDG)
Jordan Gott (London Irish, St. Pauls Catholic College)
Lewis Jones (Dunstable RFC, Moulton College, Northampton Saints)
Jack Maplesden (Saracens, Woodhouse Grove)
Aaron Morris (Bedford Blues, Biddenham Upper School)
Tom Morton (Sale Sharks, Stockport Grammar School)
Tom Penny (Alnwick RFC, Newcastle RGS, Newcastle Falcons)
Ben Pointon (Northampton Saints, Rugby School)

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Transfers, Announcements and Gossip

A month on from the last rumination on transfers it is probably time to look at the situation again and see what is the state of play.

Well the moves I didn’t see coming were the announcements, via the club’s propaganda wing aka the Leicester Mercury, of Neil Briggs from London Welsh and Ryan Lamb from Northampton.  We all knew that a fly half was coming but the smoke signals coming over the Welford Road were that Lamb’s erstwhile colleague Stephen Myler was the one in our sights.  Lamb is a fair signing for what we are after.  He’s never really been a number 2 anywhere so it is difficult to say how he will react to the long periods when he will simply have to kick his heels and wait for Flood to be injured or called away with England.  We know he’s a quality operator when all is well but there are nagging doubts as his youthful promise has slowly turned into a journeyman career with little to show for it.

Neil Briggs is out at the moment after apparently undergoing shoulder surgery, not exactly the most fortuitous thing for a hooker to have just before signing!  Briggs had a long career at Sale before spending a season in the French second division with Bourgoin.  He’s a good player but a bad signing.  With Tom Youngs and Rob Hawkins both here for next year we are not really short of a senior hooker.  Jimmy Stevens is 22 now and should be given the chance to push on and stake his claim.  With Chuter leaving in the summer this was the perfect opportunity for Stevens to step up into 3rd choice, which isn’t exactly over played as it is, and youngster Charlie Clare or Harry Thacker to take over as bright young thing playing A team rugby or going out on loan.  In a limited salary cap I find it hard to believe that Briggs will be cheaper than Stevens and price is surely a major factor in a position that has only been required to start 3 games this season.

It’s one thing moaning about the salary cap, but you have to help yourself first and not waste money on good players that are rarely going to play.

Since the last update there has been no further word on Jamie Gibson or David Mele, either to confirm their arrival at this club or another, so once again the mighty word of Pravda will have to do.  As stated before Mele looks like a decent addition to the squad whilst Gibson looks very much like the Briggs signing.  A cracking player but where is the need?  Can a player of 6’5” really be a true ball snatching openside or am I merely being sizest?  I find the idea that he is suffering from a sort of reverse Neil Back syndrome hard to believe.

Of more interest this week is the departures; Kieran Brookes has gone on a “dual registration” deal to Newcastle, surely a precursor to a permanent move in the summer, whilst Jonny Harris and Alex Lewington have both been linked with a move to Premiership strugglers London Irish. 

After Harris’s solid debut against Wasps in November I’m disappointed that he seems to be considered surplus to requirements.  At only 22 he has reached skeletal maturity and surely ready to battle Boris Stankovich for his spot as a semi-regular in the match day squad.  With Marcos Ayerza away with Argentina and Logovi’i Mulipola looking likely to move permanently to tighthead we will have to replace Harris as surely Cockerill wouldn’t want to go into the season with only teenagers to cover a Stankovich injury.  This seems utterly self defeating, unless there is a high class prop to come.  Even if that was the case and a player like Irish’s Max Lahiff or Welsh’s Franck Montanella was signed you would have to ask again is that really value for money under the salary cap?

I’m more phlegmatic about Alex Lewington’s proposed departure.  Whilst I’m fairly concerned that he hasn’t been given a chance and that we have signed 5 wingers over the past two season rather than try him out he hasn’t made an undeniable case in the A team for regular inclusion.  6 tries in 17 Championship games is a handy return though for the Nottingham born winger.  We also have talented wings coming of age from the academy in A-League top scorer Henry Purdy and 17 year old Rhys Williams, plus someone like Pasqualle Dunn who will probably find himself on the wing in adult rugby despite playing centre in the academy.  We also have Miles Benjamin to hopefully fit in somewhere.

In the backrow Wessel Jooste has departed to Castres with immediate effect, without so much as playing a single game.  There have been murmurings that Brett Deacon is to leave Tigers again and either join ex-Tigers coaches Deano and John Wells at Newcastle or perhaps depart to France.  That would be a shame as Brett has proven his worth time and time again in the Tigers environment but has struggled out of it.  He is the perfect squad man, covering two positions to a high standard and by all accounts brilliant in the changing room.  Richard Thorpe, Lucas Guillame and Michael Noone are all still with us but have unknown futures.  Guillame is only here as a student at De Montford University so will surely leave in the summer when his course finishes; Thorpe meanwhile hasn’t really impressed and was only signed as injury cover so will surely be moving on.  Noone made a big splash in the A league and then made solid appearances in the LV Cup.  Perhaps those appearances are praying on Cockerill’s mind when he offers Deacon a contract as Noone does look capable of stepping into his shoes.

I can’t for the life of me think that our back row signings are complete.  The John Barclay rumour is currently going incredibly cool from the Leicester end with Simon Cohen all but ruling it out on BBC Radio Leicester, whilst it seems to be hotting up from the Glasgow end with The Times and several other individuals claiming it is a done deal.  Looking at who has gone out and might go out (Newby, Woods, Jooste, Thorpe, Deacon, Guillame) it is surely inconceivable that only one player would come in?

Other names that have been linked are Saracens’ Andy Saul, who would fit the bill in terms of being an out and out 7 and looking to push on but still relatively cheap, Wasps’ Jonathan Poff, again affordable and an out and out 7 but this time no chance of international rugby and Joel Koffi the Carcassone flanker.  Given our predilection for Pro D2 players Koffi is probably my betting tip but any would nicely balance out the squad.

Still available are Phil Dowson and Newcastle’s Will Welch but they may well be out of our price range and too happy at their current club respectively, a cheeky outside option might be former trialist James Doyle making a return from Sale.

Moving on to the backs Tigers are apparently looking at Llanelli & Scarlets fly half Owen Williams to fill the younger fly half spot vacated by George Ford, the 21 year old was Tigers tormentor in the recent LV Cup clash.  Other players being watches are Moseley’s former Saints fly half Glyn Hughes and Jersey’s Michael Le Bourgeois who can play across the backline.

Tigers have now been linked with a glut of wingers, including USA international Luke Hume and Gonzalo Camacho.  Both now seem set to go to France and I can’t imagine Tigers are going to try and break the bank for either.  One player whose name keeps coming up is Anthony Watson of London Irish.  The England U-20s full back is pacey, large and posses a big boot.  He is getting good game time at Irish so unless they are relegated leaving would be a bit of a gamble.  Previously it was thought he was going to Bath along with several colleagues but just recently a Tigers link has been re-emerging.  It might not set the hearts a flutter like the rumoured interest in Leigh Halfpenny but could be just as good in the longer term; especially if Geordan Murphy can be convinced to give us one more year.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Halfway Hero Slater Smashes Sale

Tigers strolled to an easy win against struggling Sale as they scored 3 tries in each half to record a 48-10 win, the biggest of the Premiership season so far.  Tom Croft captained the side on his 100th start for the first team and was like a man possessed.

Ed Slater and Matt Smith both weighed in with braces as Mat Tait and a penalty try rounded out the scorers, George Ford was 8/8 with the boot on a perfect day for the Tigers.

Tigers started the game brightly and should really have crossed the try line before the 25th minute as Thompstone and Waldrom both had tries ruled out by referee Wayne Barnes.  Thompstone's was for a forward pass by the effervescent Tom Croft, truly back to his best, as he tried a flair back of the hand off load.  Waldrom's was called back for a knock on at the base of a ruck by Mulipola.  

Niall Morris butchered a glorious chance when he dithered after bursting onto Dan Bowden's pass.  The winger was clear in space and surely would have been better to pin back his ears and go hell for leather for the line.  He chose to pass to Thompstone who was held up. 

Tigers eventually got their try on 25 minutes as Ed Slater took George Ford's pass from the base of the ruck and squirmed through the Sale defenders to ground the ball.  The scores flowed thick and fast after that as Adam Thompstone chased through Dan Bowden's grubber kick but was denied the chance to ground it as Tom Brady (the Mancunian winger rather than the NFL Quarter Back) tackled him without the ball.  He had ten minutes to think about what he had done as Wayne Barnes produced the yellow card and went under the posts.  Really it would be good to go back to the old days and credit a penalty try to the player who was denied illegally, especially as giving them in open play (as opposed to a scrum for instance) seems to be back in fashion recently with 5 given in the last two weeks alone.

Brady's absence was felt quickly as Ed Slater scored an amazing individual try.  He took Mat Tait's pass standing pretty much still inside his own half and just kept on going until he was over the try line.  A hint of a dummy to Graham Kitchener saw the Sale defence part like the red sea and Slater showed serious gas as he outpaced Sale winger Mark Jennings, full back Cameron Sheppard and centre Jonny Leota as he stormed over.  I love Louis Deacon but I can't imagine him scoring a try like that anymore.

8 minutes into the second half Tigers made sure of the Try Bonus Point as Matt Smith crossed for their 4th 5 pointer.  Superb flat fast wide passes from George Ford and Dan Bowden gave Matt Smith the space to score in the corner as he held off Jennings.  Bowden's pass a beauty cutting out two men.

Smith scored again 5 minutes later.  Crane had set the ruck up 5 meters out and under the posts before George Ford straightened the line to attract the attentions of New Zealander Dan Braid, with his shoulders turned towards the young fly half he was in no position to stop Matt Smith coming like a ton of bricks on his inside.  Smith went under the posts unmolested by a Sale hand. 

The last try came from full back Mat Tait as he used his pace to blast round the outside of a tiring Sale defence that was disorganised after a poor clearing kick fell in field.  

Tigers took their tries very well and will be pleased to have gotten back on the horse and broken the string of losses that were in danger of mounting up.  With Saracens and Quins still having to play each other in the next round of fixtures we are at least in a position to take advantage should we be able to win down in Devon in 2 weeks time.  

A cloud on Tigers horizon may be the injury to Logovi'i Mulipola who left the field after 25 minutes.  Cockerill assures us it is only a dead leg but then he thought Tom Croft wouldn't a miss after he broke his neck, so his injury pronouncements aren't to be entirely trusted.  That meant an introduction of Fraser Balmain for the first time since his troubles in Llanelli.  The Geordie bulldozer had a fine game to put that nightmare to rest with one bullocking carry standing out in particular.

Sale though were very poor and unless the RFU deals out some rough justice to London Welsh they look set for the Championship next season.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

1 Tiger Cub in England Under 18s

Tigers stunning form in the inaugural Academy U-18s league has been rewarded with only one player selected for England's Under 18 side to face Scotland and that is only on the bench.

The man selected is Tigers ever present prop Neale Farthing, a product of Market Bosworth's mini and junior programme who went to Lutterworth Grammar School before moving to the Tigers academy and their preferred school QE. 

England face Scotland this Sunday in Darlington.  Unlike the seniors or Under 20s the Under 18s actually play a proper European Championship in a few weeks time so this is a friendly for England to try their options and tune up for their first round game against Portugal in 3 weeks time.

Congratulations Neale!

15 Howard Packman (Moulton College & Northampton Saints)
14 Tom Howe (Shiplake College & London Wasps)
13 Nick Tompkins (Oaklands College & Saracens)
12 Brett Herron (Wellington College & London Irish)
11 Tom Fowlie (St Paul’s Catholic College & London Irish)
10 Josh Sharp (Oaklands College & Saracens)
9 Stuart Townsend (Ivybridge Community College & Exeter Chiefs)
1 Luke Chapman (Truro College & Exeter Chiefs)
2 Jack Walker (Prince Henry’s & Leeds Carnegie)
3 Paul Hill (Prince Henry’s Grammar & Leeds Carnegie)
4 Jordan Onojaife (Stowe & Northampton Saints)
5 Charlie Ewels (Bryanston School & Bath Rugby)
6 Andrew Hughes (Hartpury College & Sale Sharks)
7 Andrew Boyce (Kings Worcester &Worcester Warriors)
8 James Chisholm (c) (Brighton College & Harlequins)
16 Sam James (Bishop’s Stortford & Saracens)
17 George Edgson (Hartpury College & London Wasps)
18 Neale Farthing (Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth College & Leicester Tigers)
19 Charlie Hewitt (Ivybridge College & Exeter Chiefs)
20 Josh Peters (Oundle School & Northampton Saints)
21 James Mitchell (Lymm School & Sale Sharks)
22 Josh Skelcey (Moulton College & Northampton)
23 Louis Clayton-Molloy (Harrow School & London Wasps)

Friday, 1 March 2013

Jersey to start Clarefully

6 Tigers are in Championship action this weekend as they go out on loan in a quest to gain more experience and convince Richard Cockerill to give them a place in Tigers regular 23.

Charlie Clare will make his first start in the Championship for Jersey as they take on London Scottish at the Richmond Athletic Ground this Saturday.  Clare over takes David Felton after 3 appearances from the substitutes bench.

On Sunday at Meadow Lane Harry Wells becomes the 12th Tigers player to go out on a dual registration deal this season and the 8th to go to Nottingham.  He is the third Tigers lock to try his hand for the Green 'n' Whites after Joe Cain and Tom Price both suffered injuries.  Wells is named on the bench alongside Jonny Harris and Andy Forsyth whilst Alex Lewington makes his 6th start of the season for his home town team.  Ryan Bower comes into the starting XV after Iron Mike Holford was ruled out through injury and makes his first start since November.

1 Sean McCarthy 

2 Charlie Clare 
3 Jon Brennan 
4 Nathan Hannay
5 Dave Markham 

6 Charlie Walker-Blair 
7 Fred Silcock 
8 Guy Thompson
9 Nicky Griffiths (capt) 

10 Michael Le Bourgeois 
11 Ed Dawson
12 Mark McCrea 

13 Max Stelling 
14 Mark Foster 
15 Barry Davies
16 Richard Barrington 

17 Dave Felton 
18 James Gethings 
19 Talite Vaioleti 
20 Kingsley Lang 
21 Dave McCormack 
22 Donovan Sanders

15 Andrew Savage 

14 David Jackson 
13 Joe Cobden 
12 Joe Munro
11 Alex Lewington 
10 James Arldige 
9 Sean Romans
1 Matt Parr 

2 Joe Duffey 
3 Ryan Bower 
4 Joe Quinn
5 Nic Rouse 

6 Rupert Cooper 
7 Brent Wilson 
8 Alex Shaw
16 Shaun Malton  

17 Jonny Harris 
18 Harry Wells 
19 Tom Calladine 
20 Finlay Barnham 
21 Rory Lynn 
22 Andy Forsyth.

Croft Captains Tigers

Tom Croft will captain Tigers on his 100th start for the club after Geordan Murphy was once again ruled out through injury.  This means a return to the starting team of Mat Tait, Niall Morris returns to fitness and is preferred on the wing to Scott Hamilton whilst Flying Fijian Vereniki Goneva is once again over looked.  Anthony Allen is still injured and Manu Tuilagi held by England so Matt Smith and Dan Bowden continue their partnership in midfield.  Stuart Lancaster has released Thomas Waldrom who drops straight into the first XV at the expense of Jordan Crane who takes Richard Thorpe's place on the bench.

I can't hide my disappointment at this team, but equally I can't see any other result that a thumping Tigers win.  The crowd and the coaches will simply not allow any other result.  Why Tait is giving yet more chances at full back is a genuine mystery.  How Murphy can be as fit as he's ever been one week then not even on the bench the next is baffling.  Why Goneva, the only wing who has looked capable of creating a try for another player, is ignored a conundrum.

Sale leave their star signings Danny Cipriani and Ritchie Gray on the bench alongside international props Tony Buckley and Alasdair Dickinson and Welsh international number 8 Andy Powell.  This game won't be over at an hour whatever the score given Tigers refusal to use their bench and Sale's strength in reserve.  With Ross Harrison, Henry Thomas and James Gaskell in the tight five Tigers should have an early advantage up front and will have to exploit that before the cavalry arrives.

Referee for Saturday will be, once again, Wayne Barnes known as Mr. Kerr to his friends.  All 2 of them.  This will incredibly be the 31st game Tigers game the veritable Barnes has officiated and the 20th Sale game.  It will be his 18th game at Welford Road and the second time he has taken charge of a Tigers Sale game at Welford Road.  The last time was in April 2009 when Julian White saw red for a punch on Andrew Sheridan and 14 man Tigers scored two second half tries in 5 minutes to secure a bonus point win.  He also took charge of the reverse fixture earlier this year.

Sheridan Misses, White Doesn't

15 Mathew Tait
14 Niall Morris
13 Matt Smith
12 Dan Bowden
11 Adam Thompstone
10 George Ford
9 Sam Harrison
1 Marcos Ayerza
2 Rob Hawkins
3 Logovi'i Mulipola
4 Ed Slater
5 Graham Kitchener
6 Tom Croft (c)
7 Julian Salvi
8 Thomas Waldrom

16 George Chuter
17 Kieran Brookes
18 Fraser Balmain
19 Brett Deacon
20 Jordan Crane
21 Micky Young
22 Matt Cornwell
23 Scott Hamilton

Sale Sharks: 
15 Cameron Shepherd
14 Tom Brady
13 Jonny Leota
12 Sammy Tuitupou
11 Will Addison
10 Nick Macleod
9 Cillian Willis
1 Ross Harrison
2 Marc Jones
3 Henry Thomas
4 James Gaskell
5 Fraser McKenzie
6 Dan Braid
7 David Seymour (c) 
8 Richie Vernon Replacements: 
16 Tommy Taylor
17 Alasdair Dickinson
18 Tony Buckley
19 Richie Gray
20 Andy Powell
21 Nathan Fowles
22 Danny Cipriani
23 Jordan Davies