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Sale targetting Champions Cup qualification ahead of Bath trip

Sale Sharks can take another huge stride towards automatic qualification for next season's European Champions Cup if they beat Recreation Ground hosts Bath on Saturday.

Just six days after Sale claimed a bonus point Aviva Premiership win against Bath, the teams meet again, this time in the west country.

And a second successive Sale victory would see them climb above Northampton into fifth place with just two games left - at home against Gloucester and away to Newcastle.

"The Rec is a difficult place to go, and they are under a bit of pressure, so we know that we are expecting an improved performance from them," Sale rugby director Steve Diamond said.

"They've got a squad that is full of quality, and they will be playing to get some kudos back. There will be a big crowd at The Rec, and they will have pride to play for, which is important to a side like Bath.

"It will be harder than last week's fixture, for obvious reasons.

"If we can do a job in the last three games and achieve what we think we can achieve, then we will get into the Champions Cup."

Diamond has made three changes from last weekend, with centre Johnny Leota replacing Sam Tuitupou, prop Ross Harrison taking over from Eifion Lewis Roberts and flanker David Seymour in for Cameron Neild. Fly-half Danny Cipriani, meanwhile, makes his 100th Sale appearance.

Bath show two changes, with both switches up-front as Charlie Ewels starts in the second-row and Scotland international David Denton packs down at blindside flanker. Rhys Priestland, meanwhile, continues at full-back with Anthony Watson suspended.

Sale are on a run of three Premiership games unbeaten, although they have only won twice away from home in the league this season, beating Leicester in February and London Irish three weeks ago.


From Belfast Telegraph