Friday night lights for Sale tomorrow as they take on the high-flying Exeter Chiefs who currently sit 2nd in the Aviva Premiership, in Sale's first Friday night game of the 2014/15 season. Here's three things to watch out for:
Will Addison starting
Following a successful 80 minutes on the pitch injury free for Addison last weekend against Saracens; Steve Diamond has opted to give the Cumbrian born flyer a starting berth in the #14 jersey against Chiefs. Considering the injury-forced absence of Tom Arscott, Luke McLean's poor form and Tom Brady's defensive weaknesses, Addison starting, even though he's typically more of an Outside Centre, on that right wing is unsurprising - Sale are desperate to see a continued run of games from Addison who has flashed enormous potential when injury free. If Addison can impress tomorrow evening and keep fit, it is hard to see him lose his starting spot at the carousel that has been Sale's right wing this season.
Braid-Lund flanker combination
I appreciate as well as any Sale fan the workload Dave Seymour goes through and the effort he puts in for 80 minutes every single week for Sale; however watching the play of Magnus Lund this season has made me yearn to see both him and Dan Braid on the pitch simultaneously. This is not because Seymour has played poorly - far from it in fact - but because Seymour and Braid's styles of play are identical: both are undersized blindside flankers, who tackle hard and who excel at turning the ball over at the breakdown. It's a system that works well within Sale's gameplan but alternatively Magnus Lund offers all that Seymour does but also doubles up as a better lineout option and excellent ball carrier (especially important with Michael Paterson out and Josh Beaumont the only other back-5 forward who excels in that area). Dan Braid is untouchable in the Sale squad - he is team captain and even at 34 is Sale's best and most influential player - so its a straight shootout between Seymour and Lund for who gets picked to play alongside Braid. 'Maggie' has been preferred for tomorrow night after an incredible run of form over the last month although his selection has also been helped by Seymour's lack of match fitness. Seeing how Braid combines with Lund's alternative style of play as a flanker will be fascinating to watch tomorrow especially against Chiefs' back row of Ewers, White and Waldrom.
Thomas "The Tank Engine" Waldrom
Speaking of the devil, the former Leicester Tiger came close to joining Sale Sharks last season as his contract expired before ultimately opting to join tomorrow's opponents Chiefs instead. Since then Waldrom has been in scintillating form; he leads the Premiership in tries scored and average metres made per game even as a forward and has earned a call up to England's Autumn international squad in the process. Watching Waldrom's play has been especially painful knowing how close he came to becoming a Sale player earlier this year and Diamond will undoubtedly have identified him as one of the key players Sale will have to stop if they want to beat Exeter tomorrow night.
Prediction: Sale Sharks 23 - 20 Exeter Chiefs
Sale are in good form in the league and a Friday night game in poor weather will inhibit Exeter's free-flowing game. Sale to win a close one.