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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Thursday, May 2nd 2019

Preview: Bristol Bears vs Sale Sharks

Bristol Bears welcome Sale Sharks to Ashton Gate for their final home game of the Gallagher Premiership season, with their sights set firmly on the top six and qualification for the Heineken Champions Cup.

Pat Lam's side snatched victory over Leicester Tigers at Welford Road, thanks to Harry Thacker's late try, while Sale Sharks edged out Bath in a low-scoring contest at the AJ Bell, with Steve Diamond's side winning 6-3. 

Here's everything you need to know about Friday's clash.


Team news

Bristol Bears: 15. Charles Piutau; 14. Tom Pincus, 13. Piers O’Conor, 12. Siale Piutau, 11. Alapati Leiua; 10. Callum Sheedy (co-capt), 9. Andy Uren; 1. Yann Thomas, 2. Harry Thacker, 3. John Afoa, 4. Ed Holmes, 5. Chris Vui, 6. Steve Luatua (co-capt), 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Nick Haining.

Replacements: 16. Nick Fenton-Wells, 17. James Lay, 18. Lewis Thiede, 19. Jordan Crane, 20. George Smith, 21. Harry Randall, 22. Ian Madigan, 23. Luke Daniels.

Sale Sharks: 15. Luke James, 14. Denny Solomona, 13. Sam James, 12. James O'Connor, 11. Chris Ashton, 10. AJ Macginty, 9. Faf de Klerk; 1. Ross Harrison, 2. Rob Webber, 3. WillGriff John, 4. Josh Beaumont, 5. James Phillips, 6. Ben Curry, 7. Tom Curry, 8. Jono Ross (c).

Replacements: 16. Curtis Langdon, 17. Valery Morozov, 18. Joe Jones, 19. Matt Postlethwaite, 20. Josh Strauss, 21. Will Cliff, 22. Cameron Redpath, 23. Arron Reed.


Last time out:

Sale Sharks 27-10 Bristol Bears - Sat, 22nd Dec, 2018, AJ Bell

Bristol Bears slipped to 27-10 defeat at the hands of Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium three days before Christmas.

A fine display of goal kicking from Robert Du Preez led the way for Sale, as the fly-half finished with a 17-point haul to back up tries in either half from Denny Solomona and Will Cliff.

Solomona squeezed in the corner midway through the first half as Steve Diamond’s men took an 11-point lead into half-time, before two more Du Preez penalties made it 20-3 on the hour mark.

Steven Luatua touched down 10 minutes from time to give Bristol a lifeline on a damp afternoon in Salford, but Cliff took advantage of some loose handling late on to seal the deal for the home side.


Head-to-head:

Harry Thacker

Harry Thacker crossed five minutes from time to earn Bristol Bears a dramatic win at Welford Road last weekend.

It was a try that made the hooker the club's leading try scorer in the 2018/19 Gallagher Premiership.

Rob Webber

Webber joined the club in the summer of 2016 from Bath, with his signing announced on the same day Tommy Taylor left for Wasps.

Capped 16 times by England, Webber began his career at Leeds before spells at Wasps and Bath.


Andy Uren

Uren has enjoyed a breakthrough season in the Gallagher Premiership, making 19 appearances for Pat Lam's side.

The scrum-half, who graduated the club's Academy, goes head-to-head with Springbok number nine, Faf de Klerk.

Faf de Klerk

De Klerk joined the Sharks at the start of the 2017-18 Premiership Rugby season and made an instant impact to the team.

The Springbok scrum half is one of the league’s standout performers and has starred for the Sharks throughout the 2018/19 campaign.


Word from the camps:

Pat Lam

“Everyone has been buoyant after the win, but there’s been a real steely determination to ensure that we do things well.

"There’s been a real edge and boys are keeping each other accountable – and if we do that and finish the week well, then that’s going to give us the best chance to have the ultimate celebration of a victory.

"These games are when we get the most growth, because you’re not playing a nothing game, you’re playing a team that really wants top six as well and have every reason to play – just like Leicester did last week.

"So, it just takes that performance to the next level and if you win, it’s even more satisfying because everything is on the line."

Steve Diamond

“Bristol Bears have had a great year, following their promotion from the Championship.

"They’re well-coached, appear to be a great set of lads and we’ll have a big task on our hands in front of a near-capacity crowd at Ashton Gate on Friday.”


Form guide:

Bristol Bears have won their last two Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches but have not won three in a row in the tournament for twelve years.

The Bears have lost two of their last six fixtures at Ashton Gate in Premiership Rugby, to Wasps in round 13 and to Worcester in round 17.

Sale Sharks last five games in Gallagher Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day.

The Sharks only away win in any competition in 2019 was 24-18 at Wasps in round 14.

Sale’s only defeat in their last seven fixtures with Bristol in Premiership Rugby was 23-24 at AJ Bell Stadium on New Year’s Day 2017.

The Sharks were victorious on their only previous visit to Ashton Gate in Gallagher Premiership Rugby: 31-13 in October 2016.

Bristol Bears: LWW
Sale Sharks: LLW


Weather forecast

Met Office says: 

Early mist clearing to a largely dry day with spells of warm sunshine and isolated showers inland. Cloud will thicken in the east later, perhaps giving some showery rain.

Maximum temperature 16 °C.


How to buy tickets:

Bristol Sport Ticketing phone lines will be open from 9am - 5pm on match day, and the ticket office will be open from 5pm.

Tickets are available online by clicking here, with over 18,000 already sold. We urge supporters to arrive early at Ashton Gate.


Match sponsor: A&R Services

Check out A&R Services' Facebook page here. Their Twitter handle is @arservicesgroup.


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