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A win is crucial for Sale Sharks to seal their spot in the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup as they welcome Ospreys on Sunday – but they will have to upset the record books to do so.
Sale, who lie sixth in Pool A with only eight clubs to go through, have won just two of their last 12 home games in the competition, losing the other 10, although three of their last five home victories have come against Welsh opposition.
The match, which begins at 1pm at the AJ Bell Stadium, is being broadcast on BT Sport and beIN SPORTS.
Other key facts:
- Sale won the reverse fixture against the Ospreys (21-13) in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup, after losing their two previous encounters in the competition which came during the pool stage of the 2006/07 season.
- Ospreys have lost their last nine games in the Heineken Champions Cup and have only won one of their last 26 away games in the competition, although that victory came against Premiership opposition – 43-32 against Northampton Saints in 2017/18.
- Sale and Ospreys are two of the four teams yet to score a point in the final 20 minutes of their matches in the Heineken Champions Cup in 2021/22. In fact, Sale are one of just two teams, alongside Montpellier Hérault Rugby, yet to score any second-half points this season.
- Ospreys back Matt Protheroe has averaged 6.0 defenders beaten per game in the Heineken Champions Cup this season. Only ASM Clermont Auvergne back Damian Penaud (7.0) has a better average among players with multiple appearances this campaign.
"They're big and strong… there's lots of South African accents!"
— Ospreys (@ospreys) January 20, 2022
Sale Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson: “Now we know what we’ve got to do to go through and that’s beat Ospreys at home. We are getting there and we are starting to gel.”
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Sale Sharks rounded off their Heineken Champions Cup pool stage campaign with a commanding 49-10 win over Ospreys on Sunday.
Sale ran in seven tries at AJ Bell Stadium as they secured a second win in Pool A – their place in the Round of 16 was already assured prior to kick off, but finishing position has a direct bearing on fixtures in the knockout stage.
Sale controlled the opening stages and had two tries ruled out – one for an illegal clear-out by captain Jono Ross and another for knock-on by centre Robert du Preez – before fly-half AJ MacGinty’s excellent cross-field kick to Thomas Roebuck allowed the winger to dot down in the corner and put them ahead with a quarter of an hour played.
The hosts would get over for a fourth time inside 20 minutes, but their effort would be chalked off once again as lock Lood de Jager knocked-on before grounding.
Ospreys enjoyed a spell of possession inside the Sale half before conceding a second try in the blink of an eye, as flanker Ben Curry secured a terrific turnover before prop Bevan Rodd broke clear and unleashed a beautiful pass out wide to winger Aaron Reed who raced over on half an hour.
IT'S CHAMPAIGN RUGBY 🍾
Lood de Jager with a backdoor offload, Jack Metcalf gets his first European try, and @SaleSharksRugby are having a ball out there 🤩
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) January 23, 2022
However, Ospreys ended what was a stop-start first half on top, eventually notching their first points through a penalty from replacement Joe Hawkins.
But Sale were far more clinical after the break, crossing twice in the first 15 minutes, through hooker Ewan Ashman and then No.8 Dan du Preez as they put an injury-ridden Ospreys side to the sword.
A number of changes seemed to disrupt Sale’s rhythm, though, and flanker Harri Deaves capitalised as he sneaked over for a try on his Ospreys and Heineken Champions Cup debut on 57 minutes.
Sale clicked back into over the remainder of the half, with Curtis Langdon dotting down following a rumbling maul before Roebuck notched his second of the afternoon after some nifty footballing skills.
A series of offloads, including a nonchalant effort from lock Lood de Jager, handed Sale a seventh try in the final play of the game, replacement Jack Metcalf finishing off for his first try in European competition.