Sale have a chance to make it five successive league wins on the bounce when they host Leicester Tigers tomorrow afternoon. Here's three things to watch out for:
Who's actually playing No.8?
Sale's official team listing currently has Dan Braid slated to start at the Number 8 position with in-form Josh Beaumont nowhere to be found (likely injured). Now I, you and my 90 year-old Grandma all know that Dan Braid is not a Number 8 by any definition and its likely that Magnus Lund will act as the default 8 at the scrum etc. but it is curious to see that Diamond has opted for his 'three 7s' strategy with Lund, Braid and Seymour all playing instead of using a more traditional No.8 - Mark Easter or Vilhami Fihaki. Do Sale have enough firepower in that back row to produce when in possession is the main question that needs to be answered since the 'three 7s' are more than exemplarily in defence but are going up against a very strong Tigers back row.
Can Danny Cipriani continue to further his England case?
Danny Cipriani, it is no exaggeration to say , turned his rugby career around at Sale last season; developing a mature and defensively responsible tactical aspect in his game to compliment his world-class ability and vision in attack. Such was his success last season that England head coach Stuart Lancaster finally ended Cipriani six-year international exile with a call-up to England's tour of New Zealand. The only blip in Cipriani's fantastic 2013/14 season however came against Leicester in Sale's last home game of the year where the Tigers were able to completely neutralise Cipriani in a very poor game for the 26 year-old, perhaps his worst of the season. This season Cipriani has continued his outstanding form and is once again in contention for an England place but will he able to produce a display similar to his game-changing one against Exeter last weekend against a team that did so well to stop him in this fixture last season?
Vereniki Goneva starts at Outside Centre
One of the Premiership's most dangerous attacking talents, Vereniki Goneva, starts at Outside Centre for Leicester tomorrow with England international Manu Tuilagi still on the treatment table and Leicester bereft of attack options in the centres. Goneva will be Leicester's key man and someone Sale have to neutralise if they have any hope of winning with both side's packs likely to be equally balanced.
Prediction: Sale Sharks 26 - 23 Leicester Tigers
Tigers are hampered by injuries to key first team players and in a poor run of form currently but one can never rule out Leicester and Richard Cockerill who know how important this game is to turn their season around. On the opposite side; Sale are in a great run of form and are returning 14 out of their 15 starters who beat Exeter fairly comprehensively in their last match. Home advantage and a big crowd should hopefully propel Sale to another victory.