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No place for Chris Ashton as Leicester, Sale name semi-final teams

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

Thursday evening’s disciplinary hearing reprieve for the red-carded Chris Ashton has come too late for the all-time record Gallagher Premiership try-scorer to keep his place in the Leicester team for Sunday’s semi-final away to Sale.

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It took a five-hour hearing for Ashton’s sending-off last weekend versus Harlequins to be downgraded to a yellow carded offence, freeing him for selection for Tigers’ trip to Manchester.

However, Richard Wigglesworth has decided to exclude Ashton from a Leicester XV that shows four changes from the match against Harlequins, three in the back line.

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England winger Anthony Watson takes over from Ashton on the right wing, current Test full-back Freddie Steward is named in place of Mike Brown while Scotland’s Matt Scott is chosen ahead of the benched Guy Porter at outside centre.

Wigglesworth has made just a single change to his starting Leicester pack, George Martin chosen at lock ahead of Harry Wells. For Sale, the selection approach was different as four of their five changes following their win over Newcastle have come in the pack.

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Their entire front row has been rejigged with Simon McIntyre, Akker van der Merwe and Nick Schonert named in place of benched trio Bevan Rodd, Ewan Ashman and Coenie Oosthuizen, while England back-rower Tom Curry is chosen instead of Sam Dugdale. Out the back, the sole alteration sees Gus Warr restored as the starting scrum-half in place of Raffi Quirke.

SALE: 15. Joe Carpenter; 14. Tom Roebuck, 13. Rob du Preez, 12. Manu Tuilagi, 11. Arron Reed; 10. George Ford, 9. Gus Warr; 1. Simon McIntyre, 2. Akker van der Merwe, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Jean-Luc du Preez, 5. Jonny Hill, 6. Tom Curry, 7. Ben Curry (capt), 8. Jono Ross. Reps: 16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Bevan Rodd, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. Josh Beaumont, 20. Daniel du Preez, 21. Raffi Quirke, 22. Sam James, 23. Tom O’Flaherty.

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LEICESTER: 15. Freddie Steward; 14. Anthony Watson, 13. Matt Scott, 12. Dan Kelly, 11. Harry Potter; 10. Handre Pollard, 9. Ben Youngs; 1. Tom West, 2. Julian Montoya (capt), 3. Dan Cole, 4. George Martin, 5. Cameron Henderson, 6. Hanro Liebenberg, 7. Tommy Reffell, 8. Jasper Wiese. Reps: 16. Charlie Clare, 17. James Cronin, 18. Joe Heyes, 19. Harry Wells, 20. Olly Cracknell, 21. Jack van Poortvliet, 22. Jimmy Gopperth, 23. Guy Porter.

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Turlough 6 hours ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

“You want that – not hatred – but whatever it is that stirs it all up. It’s good.” Agree with this. If you can put a common motivating idea in all your players heads during a game it can produce a real Team perfromance. Erasmus is pretty expert at this. It is quite clear that the comments by Etzebeth, Allende and others were not coincidence and were actioned to create animoisty before the series in order to galvanise the South African mind set. While I understand it, I don’t like it. They result in unnessary vitriol between supporters and for what? I don’t think any of the SA players seriously believe any of these claims and with Ireland ignoring them Erasmus won’t get the escalation he seeks. The vitriol shown by some SA and indeed NZ supporters is extremely weird for NH supporters (OK, maybe England have felt it) but it just feels very odd over a sport. Ireland were more or less sh1t for the first 100 years of their rugby, they have improved significantly in the last 25 to be in a position around now (it may not last) to go into a match with the big guns with a real shot of winning. The reaction to this from some SH supporters has been bizarre with conspiracy theories of ‘Arrogance’ fueling abuse from supporters and even NZ players to Irish crowds during the world cup. I love International rugby and the comraderie between supporters. I genuinely dread and dislike the atmosphere around games with the southern giants. They take this very personally. NH teams: play them, try and beat them, enjoy the craic with their players and supporters and wish them well. SH teams wish them well and they call you arrogant in the press months later. Its just a matter of try and beat them and then good riddance til the next time.

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