Leicester head to Sale knowing that only a win will do as they still strive for an unlikely home semi final. It requires a choke of Devon Loch proportions from Northampton but Tigers will still keep fighting until the final bell. With a semi final berth not secure and Quins on our tail a win is vital before heading to the final round and a meeting with a rampant Saracens.
Richard Cockerill makes4 changes to the side that slipped to defeat at the Stoop. In the forwards Lions internationals Tom Youngs and Geoff Parling return whilst Owen Williams and Niall Morris start in the back line.
On the bench Louis Deacon returns to the match day 23 at the expense of Graham Kitchener, Deacon is presumably included to try and provide some dominance in the scrum and to reward him for his good for leading into the Heineken Cup Quarter Final.
Thomas Waldrom is also recalled to the bench following his disastrous appearance in that same game.
Marcos Ayerza will make his 160th appearance for the club alongside fit again Tom Youngs. The hooker missed out against Quins with a calf injure. In the engine room Geoff Parling replaces Graham Kitchener for his first start since the October encounter with Treviso.
Niall Morris makes his 50th start in Tigers colours since joining from Leinster in 2011. Morris made an instant impact in his debut, scoring 2 tries against Exeter. US Eagle Blaine Scully makes way to the bench. Scully is pure effort and determination but Morris might just posses a greater spark in attack.
Tigers travel to Sale defending some impressive recent results between the two sides. The last time Sale beat the Tigers was 4 seasons ago, when Jordan Crane’s last minute try was ruled out by referee David Rose for offside. But those wins since have been hard fought requiring second half fight backs.
In 2012 Sale lead 8-6 after a dour first half but Ben Youngs clinical finish and George Ford’s boot eeked Leicester to a 20-8 victory. The year before Tigers were in disarray, the World Cup had denied us so many players, and we were 13-3 adrift at half time. Tigers roared back, inspired by substitute Martin Castrogiovanni we scored 4 tries in 12 minutes, keeping Sale scoreless to secure the bonus point win and kick start the season.
The first meeting this season was scarred with controversy after Sale’s deliberate cheating at scrum time wasted almost a quarter of the game as rookie referee Mathew Carly refused to take action. After the match Cockerill blasted opposite number Steve Diamond but Sale employed the same tactics away to Bath two months ago.
Sale are missing inspirational Kiwi captain Dan Braid who this week underwent knee surgery. His place in the back row is taken by Tongan Number 8 Vilaimi Fahiki as James Gaskell, departing this summer to Wasps, slides over the number 6.
In the back line Danny Cipriani has been in brilliant form of late and will look to use this TV fixture as a showcase for his talents before Stuart Lancaster names his England touring squad.
Saturday’s referee is John Paul Doyle, originally from Dublin he went to St. Mary’s college in Twickenham and stayed. Since refereeing Tigers at home to Leeds in September 2009 Doyle has officiated 16 Leicester matches; on his watch we have a record of 12 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses. This season he has refereed us 3 times, the draws at home to Northampton and Bath as well as the win away to London Irish.
15 Mat Tait
14 Niall Morris
13 Manu Tuilagi
12 Anthony Allen
11 Vereniki Goneva
10 Owen Williams
9 Ben Youngs
1 Marcos Ayerza
2 Tom Youngs
3 Logovi’i Mulipola
4 Ed Slater (Capt.)
5 Geoff Parling
6 Jamie Gibson
7 Julian Salvi
8 Jordan Crane.
16 Neil Briggs
17 Boris Stankovich
18 Fraser Balmain
19 Louis Deacon
20 Thomas Waldrom
21 David Mele
22 Toby Flood
23 Blaine Scully.
Sale: Tom Arscott ; Tom Brady, Jonny Leota, Sammy Tuitupou, Charlie Ingall ; Danny Cipriani, Dwayne Peel ; Eifion Lewis Roberts, Marc Jones, Vadim Cobilas ; Andrei Ostrikov, Michael Paterson; James Gaskell, David Seymour (Capt.), Vilaimi Fahiki.
Replacements Tommy Taylor, Ross Harrison, Henry Thomas, Kirill Kulemin, Mark Easter, Will Cliff, Joe Ford, Mark Jennings.