Champions Cup: Alex Sanderson has warning for Sale Sharks ahead of sold-out clash with Toulouse

Toulouse v Sale Sharks Credit: Alamy
Toulouse v Sale Sharks Credit: Alamy

Sale Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson is keen for his team to avoid another “tumble dryer” experience when they host Toulouse on Saturday.

The reverse fixture between the sides saw the French heavyweights come out on top via a 45-19 victory as they shocked Sale with their ability to strike at pace.

Sanderson is hoping not to make the same errors at the AJ Bell Stadium this week as they look to claim the Champions Cup scalp of the five-time champions.

Lessons from loss in France

The defeat in France was a rare negative for the Sharks this term as they sit in second place in the Premiership after winning nine of their 12 league games.

“There are lessons we learnt against Toulouse which I hope not to repeat,” Sanderson said.

“For example, don’t give them any opportunity to get quick ball.

“What we didn’t preview – and sometimes it is difficult to gauge unless it’s live – is how fast they are able to strike.

“They are unbelievable opportunists, so if you give them a little sniff or momentum then you are in a tumble dryer. You are chasing shadows and marvelling at their off-loads.

“They caught us in a few moments in that game when we weren’t quite on it and weren’t alive to it, which we are now.”

Sale know a victory over Toulouse would do their hopes of making the Champions Cup knockouts the power of good and would be a further boost for the club.

Indeed, the Sharks’ campaign has been positive both on and off the field as their stadium is sold out again, despite soccer’s Manchester derby on the same day.

Sanderson added: “It is a good indication of the health of the club, organisation and probably rugby in the north-west, particularly around Manchester.

Sold out AJ Bell Stadium

“It is the first time we have sold out back-to-back home games, and the interest we are managing to gather is all down to the players.

“They are really looking forward to having a full house behind them, and it makes a difference.

“It will be a hell of a game – it is the best team in France versus one of the in-form teams in the Premiership over recent weeks.

“That is a decent match-up in itself, let alone the international players on show.”

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