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Steve Diamond previews Sale Sharks v Leicester Tigers

Steve Diamond

Leicester Tigers travel north fresh from a convincing win over Bath Rugby on Sunday afternoon, whilst Sharks brought back three points from a 34-34 draw away to Worcester Warriors.

Director of Rugby Steve Diamond said: “Our 34 – 34 draw last week against Worcester typified our inconsistent start to the season so far; some great moments in attack and some howlers in defence. The staff and players have been working hard to attain the high performance levels we are accustomed to.

“I thought the game was beyond us at one point but the lads knuckled down and clawed their way back. I thought AJ MacGinty was outstanding for us, he kicked all his points and ran things well.

“Leicester Tigers are the Manchester United of Aviva Premiership Rugby and have a great squad of players who are well coached by Richard Cockerill and Aaron Mauger. We will have to be at our best on Saturday from the first to last whistle.”

Looking at some of the players who will be involved at the weekend.

In the ‘Top Tackle Count’ Leicester’s Brendon O’Connor is among the leaders with 43.

Cameron Neild is one of the leading ball carriers in the Premiership with 57, followed by Josh Beaumont with 44, Byron McGuigan with 42 and Will Addison with 37. The top ball carrier for the Tigers is ex Shark Mathew Tait with 36. Byron McGuigan is also making plenty of metres with ball in hand (255 metres).

In the lineouts Josh Beaumont (25) and Bryn Evans (21) lead the rest of the Premiership, Graham Kitchener (15) and Lachlan McCaffrey (10) are the Tigers danger men. Captain Josh Beaumont also leads the way with 3 ball steals.

Sharks recorded their first double over Tigers in nine years last season with a 10-3 win at Welford Road followed by a thrilling 27-20 win at the AJ Bell Stadium on Easter Sunday. The last time Sale beat Tigers three times in succession was back in 1974-75 season.

Tigers are unbeaten on the road this season with wins at Gloucester and Newcastle Falcons. Tigers fly half Freddie Burns has kicked 12/17 kicks this season whilst the kicking duties for Sharks have been shared between Dan Mugford, Will Addison and AJ MacGinty. Mugford is kicking has kicked 7/10 whilst AJ MacGinty kicked at 100% on his comeback game at Sixways last weekend.

Games between the sides over the last three seasons at the AJ Bell have produced 173 points, an average of 57 points per game so an exciting game is in prospect at the weekend.

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