August 29 2012
black_otter starts the ball rolling for The Tribe with his preview of this season's opening game when Sale Sharks visit Sandy Park.
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks
This Saturday, 1st September, we welcome back Sale Sharks to Sandy Park for the Aviva Premiership 2012/13 season opener. Previous visits have gone the way of the home team, and last season’s win (37-12) was particularly satisfying as it marked a change in Exe’s approach to the game, with a more attacking style of play on display. We’d happily take a repeat, but I suspect that it will be a considerably different challenge that awaits us this weekend.
In the Telegraph, Paul Ackford had this to say about Sale’s chances this season in his prem preview:
Quote:Sale Sharks What's going on? Danny Cipriani has jetted in from the Melbourne Rebels after a less than scintillating two-year spell with the Australian club, and Sale also have on their books Scotland lock Richie Gray– 6ft 10in and approaching 20 stones. Add in a new stadium and Sale’s abrasive, confrontational boss Steve Diamond seeking to tread on toes everywhere, and you can bet it will not be dull. Coach: Bryan Redpath. Ground: Salford Stadium, 12,000. Tickets: £10-£45. Singings: Eiffion Lewis-Roberts (Toulon), Richie Gray (Glasgow), Danny Cipriani (Melbourne Rebels), Cameron Shepherd (Western Force), Corne Uys (Newcastle Falcons). Players out: Andrew Sheridan (Toulon), Wame Lewaravu (Mont-de-Marsan), Scott Mathie (Eastern Province), Tommy Bell (Wasps), Andy Higgins (Newcastle), Luther Burrell (Nothampton), Iain Thornley (Wigan), Joaquin Tuculet (Grenoble). Last season: 6th Prediction: 5th
At the headline level, Ackford predicts the Sharks and the Chiefs swapping places in the league table compared to last year, but it is the big name signings that probably immediately catch the eye, in particular Danny Cipriani, one-time saviour of England, and Richie Gray, the tousle-haired Scots giant. Much has been written about those two, but I think that new coaching structure under Bryan ‘Brush’ Redpath could actually end up having more impact. Brush is a former Sale star player himself, and will be immensely keen to repay Steve Diamond’s faith in his coaching abilities. Equally important will be the return of Welshman Lewis Roberts, who will undoubtedly add some steal to their scrum.
So how has pre-season gone for the Sharks? Pretty well, judging on scorelines, with 2 wins and a draw – away to Fylde (26-38), at home to Glasgow Warriors (49-27), and at their new City of Salford stadium to Leinster (10-10). In the Fylde game, Brush put out a young and inexperienced side that leapt out to a 0-26 lead, but changes in the second half allowed Fylde to crawl their way back in – some sloppy defence will have caused concern, but on the plus side, 4 tries for winger Tom Brady saw them confortably home. The fixture against Glasgow was billed as Mark Cueto’s testimonial match (although he didn’t feature), and the introduction of the Sale bench (Peel, Gray, Cipriani, etc.) during the second half turned a one-point margin into a convincing victory.
The game against Leinster (largely missing their Irish international players that were on their summer SH tour) was played in fairly atrocious conditions, but the squad on display might give us some idea of what we might expect to see at Sandy Park: 15.Rob Miller, 14.Charlie Amesbury, 13.Corne Uys, 12.Johnny Leota, 11.Charlie Ingall, 10.Danny Cipriani, 9.Dwayne Peel, 1.Eifion Lewis-Roberts, 2.Marc Jones, 3. Vadim Cobilas, 4.Richie Gray, 5.Fraser McKenzie, 6.Mark Easter, 7.David Seymour (capt.), 8.Andy Powell. Replacements: 16. Joe Ward, 17.Tony Buckley, 18.Aston Croall, 19.Kearnan Myall, 20.Richie Vernon, (blank)Tom Holmes, 21.Will Cliff, 22.Nick Macleod, 23.Will Addison, (blank)Jordan Davies. Andy ‘Buggyman’ Powell made a strong return to the side, with Gray and McKenzie supporting him in carrying the ball up. Rob Miller continues to impress from fullback and its clear why he is touted as a potential future England player, and the halfback pairing of Peel and Cipriani seems to have clicked well at this early stage. DoR Redpath was fairly pragmatic in his post-game assessment: “I think it was sloppy, to be honest. Some of our detail was poor. Ten-all isn't a great result, in my eyes, and shows where we are. We need to improve some of our core skills, our ball retention in certain parts and our discipline, too. We lost our way and gave away penalties in a spell before half time. To create any momentum, you can't do that, in the conditions as well. Richie Gray bashed his knee early on - not badly - and Danny Cipriani was pretty efficient. It was good to get them out there. Andy Powell had his first outing and was our best player, in terms of his energy and his carries. Most of them did well, but it was an 'average' performance. We need games like that to learn from them. We need the conditions, playing against a more physical outfit than last weekend. It's rained, but it's a great surface, so you can still play rugby. We've got to get out of pre-season mode. It's about going to Exeter, we need to be tough. Our work ethic and our desire to scramble in defence was good tonight. A good exercise, a good workout for us.” So perhaps not too dissimilar to our own pre-season?
It’s going to be an interesting season for the Chiefs – written off completely and consigned to the drop before a ball had even been kicked in our first outing in the AP, we progressed to being assigned ‘second season syndrome’, which somehow failed to materialise! This season will be a tough challenge for us, no doubt, with Heino action sure to test our strength in depth to the full. Rob Baxter is looking for Exe to continue playing with the ambition that we displayed in the second half of last season – let’s hope that begins with Sale and continues thru’out the season.
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