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Preview: Sale Sharks v Saracens Preview: Sale Sharks v Saracens

Preview: Sale Sharks v Saracens

Their starts to the Aviva Premiership season are polar opposites but Saracens prop John Smit knows the size of the challenge for his team when they head north to take on Sale on Saturday.

The Sharks’ new home, the Salford City Stadium, becomes the 32nd new venue to host a Premiership encounter but Sale themselves are still licking their wounds after a 43-6 mauling at the hands of Exeter in their season opener.

Sarries meanwhile looked supreme as they made light work of London Irish at Twickenham’s London Double Header, Chris Ashton scoring twice in a 40-3 romp.

But Sale have not lost their opening two matches of a Premiership campaign since 2003 and Smit knows he and his Saracens teammates will be put to the test this weekend.

“We always have really tough games against Sale so we know how difficult it will be,” he said.

“You are not sure what to expect early on in the season from yourself or your opponents so we have to approach every game and give it your utmost.

“We couldn’t have asked for a much better start to the season and it is important to carry that on.

“It will be tough against a Sale side who play some nice attacking rugby and one that is reeling from a heavy defeat and in a new stadium.

“That makes a tough fixture even tougher but the confidence in the squad is good and we are looking to carry that on.”

The Sharks’ only victory over Saracens in their last eight encounters in all competitions came in January 2011 but with a raucous home support behind them at their new stadium and a string of new summer signings like Danny Cipriani and Richie Gray in the squad, optimism is high around the club.

But fly-half Nick MacLeod admits the Sharks will have to match up physically with the London club if they are to stand any chance of emerging victorious.

“Saracens have got such a proven track record,” he said.

“It’s going to be a huge game, but the fact that it’s the first home league game of the season adds a bit of bite to it and we’ve got a massive point to prove on the back of last weekend.

“It’s certainly going to be a huge game and we’ve got to put a performance together to make sure we get our season off on the right foot.

“Sarries have got threats all over the park – they’ve got Charlie Hodgson and Chris Ashton on the wing – they’ve got threats everywhere, as have a lot of Premiership teams.

“To beat Sarries, we have to be hugely physical. They’re a big side with a history to being physical to try and dominate teams. We’ve certainly got to counter that.” 

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