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Scene set for explosive clash as Sale's Sanderson has a pop at 'ungracious' Harlequins

By Chris Jones

Trending on RugbyPass

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Sale boss Alex Sanderson has lit the blue touch paper for a potentially explosive Friday night clash in Manchester by branding Harlequins, the team that sits two points behind the Sharks in fourth place in the Gallagher Premiership table, as ungracious winners.

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Harlequins defeated Sale 24-12 at the Twickenham Stoop on February 20 and while Sanderson insisted revenge won’t be the main emotion for his players as they attempt to secure a home playoff semi-final place, there was no hiding the motivation that the Sharks director of rugby and his players are taking from their London loss 14 and a half weeks ago. 

Speaking at the weekly Sale media briefing ahead of the round 21 fixture, ex-Saracens assistant Sanderson said: “I don’t want to make it personal. Maybe it’s because I have been a London rival for so many years and have been at the wrong end of a couple of results, they are a side that let you know it when they do win. 

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“They are not very gracious in victory. It felt like that down there and it’s always nice to inject a bit of animosity in that North vs South divide.”

Man of the match in Sale’s recent 22-12 win over Bristol, Jean-Luc du Preez was given a yellow card in that February meeting with Harlequins who ensured their playoff place with a mad-cap 44-33 win last Saturday over Bath which showcased their attacking genius. 

However, the series of Bath tries also highlighted the London club’s defensive problems and Sanderson’s very physical team are planning to turn up the heat on Quins at the AJ Bell Stadium. Sanderson added: “They are probably the most dangerous team on turnover ball and the statistics show they are the second-most devastating team in terms of metres made – second only to Bristol. It is similar threats to the ones Bristol posed to us last Friday night with more unpredictability.”

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With Manu Tuilagi back to full fitness, Sanderson is confident there is more to come from his powerhouse midfielder: “It’s brilliant to have him back and I believe he has still got his best rugby in him.”

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Scene set for explosive clash as Sale's Sanderson has a pop at 'ungracious' Harlequins

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