Jonathan Keeps announces the squad ahead of an important fixture against Canterbury
SATURDAY 11th- 2pm, Heywood Rd.
Disappointment for The Dogs as they began the start of the decade with a tight loss to Old Elthamians away from home. With this week’s fixture at Home they look to continue a generation of momentum which became more familiar towards the end of 2019. With Heywood Road becoming a fortress, with only one loss recorded since October- falling short to The RAMS in that time.
Nonetheless, an impressively dominant display in our final fixture of 2019 vs Rotherham Titans shows our supporters the quality within this squad- an abundance of experience throughout shining.
Sale FC are currently placed at 11th, whilst Canterbury sit bottom of National League 1- with a single win recorded. The Dogs will hope to kickstart the second part of this season with a much-needed win, in this heavily contested league every point is vital.
NAT 1 Standings
Jonathan Keep commented ahead of the encounter:
“We visited Canterbury at the end of September earlier in the season and came out victorious in what was our first away win of the season at 7-27 after a surge of tries in the second half after an extremely competitive first half resulted in a bonus point win for us.
However, a lot has happened since then and Canterbury will have adjusted to the league as we did last season. They secured their first victory of the season in December against Cinderford and also pushed Rotherham to within one point at Clifton Lane last month, so we are anticipating an extremely tough fixture today!
Last week saw us travel down to our friends at Old Elthamians, the first of three trips to the capital this month, where we went down to the hosts 28-21 after another late surge in the second half. The half time score of 14-7 put us in a strong position to play down the slope and capitalise on some good work having been done, we let it slip early in the second half when they caught us off guard at a midfield scrum and opened their lead up to 28-7 within the first 10 minutes of the half, a slip in concentration that we cannot let creep in this week.
Credit where it is due though to the players, who once again showed their resolve to fight back and gain a losing bonus point from the game to make the long trip worthwhile.
A real focus for the squad now is to keep up our good home form and take that into the away fixtures. We have the ability and quality to improve on our first half of the season and really push for a top 5 finish”.
A familiar squad with only a few changes. The front 8 remain unchanged after continuing to impress in physical encounters in recent weeks, captain Andy Hughes in at 7 whilst Rhys Davies and Nick Gary continue their partnership at 4 & 5. The front 3 stays unchanged with Birchall, Longmore and Talaese leading the way, with a new but familiar face of John Blanchard Jr on the bench. Joined by Jake Pope who scored a decent try last weekend against Old Elthamians and Stone Priestley-Nangle who continues to be a powerful introduction off the bench.
The backs remain similar with Bradley and Johnson starting with a great partnership continuing as they look to exploit this Canterbury backline. Chris Johnson has Jack Moorhouse at inside centre and Connor Doherty at 13- making his first appearance of the 2019/20 season. A shift in the back three as Rawcliffe replaces Anthony Bingham on the right wing (14)- his first start there this season- whilst Fergus Mulchrone pushes to fullback as Tom Brady falls injured, Patrick Ah Van securely on the left (11).
Johnny Leota, Juan Pablo Rivas (Toti) and Anthony Bingham will be ready for selection soon after recovering from injuries. Whilst, Tom Brady has an expected 6 week return period- all the best in your recovery Mr. Fox!
Raffi Quirke continues with the England U20s Six Nations camp whilst Matt Postlewaithe and James Williams start this evening for Sale Sharks vs La Rochelle in the European Champions Cup- all the best to them.
21st DEC 2019: Rotherham Titans Match Report- here
4th JAN 2020: Old Elthamians Match Report- here