Sale v Newcastle: Teams
At Edgeley Park, Friday April 23, kick-off 7.45pm
Last Updated: 24/04/10 9:19pm
Thomas: Welcome return
Sale are boosted by the return to fitness of Lee Thomas for their vital Guinness Premiership fixture against Newcastle at Edgeley Park on Friday.
"A win on Friday would ensure our Guinness Premiership status for next season, so it's absolutely vital that we really attack this game..."
Steve Bates Quotes of the week
Thomas comes back for the 'St.George's Day Special' fixture in Round 21. Also included on the replacements bench is England U20 prop Lee Imiolek.
Sale director of rugby Kingsley Jones has also opted to push Dwayne Peel into jersey number 21 behind starter Richard Wigglesworth, who will be playing his last home game for the Sharks this weekend before a summer move to Saracens.
"We all realise the challenge that this game presents. Games between the sides are always entertaining, and a lot is riding on the outcome of this one. Newcastle have a great set piece, and in Jimmy Gopperth have a kicker in fine form," said Jones.
Meanwhile, Newcastle Falcons welcome back skipper Carl Hayman and hooker Rob Vickers to their front row.
Hayman is named in the side after missing last weekend's home date with Leicester due to back trouble, with Vickers having withdrawn from the same game with a neck injury.
But both return to the ranks for the crucial Edgeley Park encounter, in a side which sees a further four personnel changes from that which took the field last Sunday.
Three come in the pack where line out kingpin James Hudson reclaims his starting berth, whilst Scottish prop Grant Shiells earns a start at loose head prop and Samoan international Filipo Levi packs down on the blindside flank.
The only change to the backs sees fit-again Alex Tait return from a hip injury at fullback to make his 50th appearance for the Falcons, with director of rugby Steve Bates well aware of the importance of the game.
"A win on Friday would ensure our Guinness Premiership status for next season, so it's absolutely vital that we really attack this game and look to rubber stamp our survival before the final round of matches in a fortnight's time," he said.
"Regardless of the various permutations our fate is still very much in our own hands, the boys have looked sharp in training during the week and they are all excited about the challenge in what we know could be a massive game for the club."
Sale Sharks: 15 Marika Vakacegu, 14 Mark Cueto, 13 Mathew Tait, 12 Lee Thomas, 11 Ben Cohen, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Kristian Ormsby, 7 David Seymour, 6 Sisaro Koyamaibole, 5 Dean Schofield (capt), 4 Chris Jones, 3 Jack Forster, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Eifion Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Lee Imiolek, 18 Rob O'Donnell, 19 Sean Cox, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 Dwayne Peel, 22 Jonny Kennedy, 23 Dafydd James.
Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Charlie Amesbury, 13 Gcobani Bobo, 12 Tane Tu'ipulotu, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Micky Young, 8 Josh Afu, 7 Brent Wilson, 6 Filipo Levi, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 James Hudson, 3 Carl Hayman (c), 2 Rob Vickers, 1 Grant Shiells.
Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 Micky Ward, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Ed Williamson, 20 Will Welch, 21 Chris Pilgrim, 22 Rob Vickerman, 23 Tom Catterick.