Bath Rugby hosts fourth placed Sale Sharks in the final game of 2019 in the Gallagher Premiership at the Rec tomorrow afternoon. Here’s a closer look at our league rivals…
Ground – AJ Bell Stadium (12,000)
Head of Rugby – Steve Diamond
Gallagher Premiership finish 2018/19 – 7th
European Challenge Cup 2018/19 – Semi-finalists
Northampton Saints (H) 22-10 (W)
Exeter Chiefs (A) - 35-10 (L)
Exeter Chiefs (H) - 20-22 (L)
ONES TO WATCH
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.
Faf made twenty-five appearances for Sale in his first season scoring 97 points, showing skill and determination which eventually led to a call-up to the Springboks squad for the 2018 summer test series against England in South Africa.
Three exceptional performances followed and put the scrum-half firmly on the Springbok radar for the Rugby Championship in November, where the South Africans gained a notable victory over the All Blacks in New Zealand.
Ultimately Faf’s consistency and impressive show of ability for club and country over the 2017-18 season eventually led to a nomination for World Player of the Year, with the young scrum-half losing out to Johnny Sexton at the final hurdle in November this year.Faf was selected as the starting scrum-half for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and led the Springboks to their third World Cup victory beating England and Sharks team-mates Tom Curry and Mark Wilson in the final.
Curry made his professional debut against Scarlets on 15 October 2016 in the European Champions Cup, becoming the fourth-youngest English player and youngest Sale Sharks player to have played in the competition. He scored on his Aviva Premiership debut on 30 October 2016, becoming the third-youngest scorer in the competition. At the end of the 2016-17 season, he was named a joint recipient of Sale Sharks' Young Player of the Season award, sharing the award with his brother Ben.
Curry was named in the England U20 squad for the 2016/17 season on 14 October 2016, having previously represented England U18. Curry was part of the England U20 squad that won a Grand Slam in the 2017 Six Nations Under 20 Championship.He was called up to the senior England squad by Eddie Jones for their 2017 summer tour of Argentina. In his first England appearance against the Barbarians on 28 May 2017 he was named Man of the Match. The match against the Barbarians was a 'non-test' fixture, so he did not receive an official cap. Curry made his first capped appearance for England at flanker in the first test against Argentina in June 2017. He became the youngest player to start at flanker for England, and the youngest England forward since 1912.Curry was named in England's 2019 Six Nations Squad and started at No 7 in all of England's games. He scored tries in the matches against Wales and Scotland.
Ross was among the players to join the Sharks in the summer, signing a three-year deal to move to the AJ Bell Stadium from Stade Francais, who he helped win the French title in 2015. Prior to that he played in South Africa for Blue Bulls, making his debut in 2011 and being appointed captain in only his third Currie Cup match.
26 April 2019
Sale Sharks 6 (3)
Pens: MacGinty 2
Bath Rugby 3 (3)
Sale: L James, Solomona, S James, O'Connor, Ashton, MacGinty, De Klerk; Harrison, Webber, John, Beaumont, Phillips, B Curry, T Curry, Ross.
Replacements: Langdon, Moroz, Jones, Postlethwaite, Strauss, Cliff, Redpath, Reed.
Bath: Watson, Cokanasiga, Joseph, Roberts, McConnochie, Burns, Fotuali'i, Obano, Dunn, Lahiff, Attwood, Ewels, Ellis, Underhill, Mercer.
Replacements: Walker, van Rooyen, Perenise, Douglas, Stooke, Chudley, Priestland, Rokoduguni.
WORD FROM THE SALE SHARKS CAMP
Director of Rugby Steve Diamond said: “Bath are always tough opponents, especially at The Rec so we will have to make sure we are on our game on Saturday. They played well against London Irish last weekend so I think they will be full of confidence and for us, tomorrow is all about controlling that, getting our basics right and hopefully it will be a good contest.”