Aviva Premiership Round 8 Preview By Danny Till
Sale Sharks v London Irish – Friday 8pm
Sale are without a win in their opening seven games in the Aviva Premiership, and sit eight points adrift at the bottom of the table. In response to this disastrous start to the season Steve Diamond has taken charge of first team affairs, with former New Zealand coach John Mitchell joining in an advisory role.
The change of coach may be the perfect tonic to inspire the Sharks, who have conceded 20+ points in every game this season. In recent weeks performances have improved, and they will feel a win isn’t far away. Australian international Cameron Shepherd starts his first game for the club, and Diamond will be hoping he can provide the spark the home side have been desperately lacking. Shepherd is priced at 10/1(Paddy Power) to score the first try, this looks a good bet as Irish have conceded 10 tries against wingers this season.
London Irish currently sit one place above Sale after an inconsistent start to the season. Brian Smith’s men were denied a victory over champions Harlequins by a controversial Tom Casson try. They arrive in Salford having claimed 9 victories in their last 11 meetings with Sale, but the Exiles have one just once in their last 11 away outings.
Fly-half Ian Humphreys kicked seven goals in the defeat to Quins, and Irish are well priced at 15/8 (Sporting Bet) to open the scoring with a penalty against the ill-disciplined Sharks. Given that both sides have really struggled defence this season, former England winger Topsy Ojo looks good value at 5/2 (Paddy Power) to score anytime.
This is a must win game for the Sharks and they know the pressure is really on, there is no doubting the talent in their squad but they have struggled to click as unit this season. Irish are a team who can be brilliant one minute and appalling the next, and they can’t afford to give this desperate Sale side a chance to get on top. Here are my four best bets for the game:
Sale -2 (handicap) – 10/11 (Boyle Sports)
Draw/Sale (HT/FT) – 20/1 (Ladbrokes)
Cameron Shepherd 1st try – 10/1 (Paddy Power)
London Irish penalty (first scoring play) – 15/8 (Sporting Bet)