Tom Curry returns to Sale side for Bristol clash

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England and Lions star Tom Curry returns to Sale Sharks’ XV as Alex Sanderson makes just one change to his side to face Bristol.

Curry replaces brother Ben in the only alteration to the Sale side which recorded an emphatic victory over Wasps at the AJ Bell Stadium last weekend as the Sharks director of rugby opts for consistency in selection against the Bears.

An unchanged selection of Bevan Rodd, Ewan Ashman and Nick Schonert make up the Sale front-row on Friday, while Jean-Luc du Preez and Lood de Jager provide an imposing partnership in the second-row.

Jono Ross captains the side from his usual position of blindside flanker, and Curry slots in at openside. Daniel du Preez completes the pack at number eight.

Following an impressive performance at the AJ Bell Stadium in Round 12, Will Cliff retains the number nine shirt and links up with Bristol-bound AJ MacGinty at half-back.

The pair are backed up by plenty of South African prowess in the midfield as Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Robert du Preez combine to provide both precision and power in the Sale back line.

Marland Yarde, Byron McGuigan and Luke James make up an unchanged back three.

Tommy Taylor, Simon McIntyre and Coenie Oosthuizen all act as front-row cover this weekend, whilst JP du Preez returns alongside Ben Curry to offer further forward cover.

Gus Warr, Sam James and Simon Hammersley cover the backs.

Three changes for Bristol

Meanwhile, Max Lahiff returns to the Bristol starting line-up as the Bears host Sale Sharks in the Premiership.

The prop is one of three changes to the side that recorded a losing bonus point last weekend versus Exeter Chiefs.

Henry Purdy is the only change to the backline, while John Hawkins comes into the second-row.

Jake Heenan, Ed Holmes and Jack Bates come back into the 23-man squad and are listed among the replacements for the Ashton Gate clash.

Form: Bristol Bears have lost their last four Gallagher Premiership Rugby fixtures since beating Worcester at Ashton Gate in early November, they have however picked up a losing bonus point in their last two matches. The Bears have been defeated in their last two home games in Premiership Rugby and have not lost three in succession in the tournament at Ashton Gate since they were relegated in season 2016/17. Sale Sharks have won just three games in Gallagher Premiership Rugby since the end of September, all at home against Harlequins, Northampton, and Wasps. The Sharks have not won away from home in Premiership Rugby since their trip to Bath in Round 19 last season. Sale have lost just one of their last six encounters with Bristol: 10-16 at Ashton Gate in November 2019.

The teams:

Bristol: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Ioan Lloyd, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Fitz Harding, 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Chris Vui, 5 John Hawkins, 4 Joe Joyce (c), 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Max Lahiff
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 John Afoa, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Piers O’Conor, 23 Jack Bates

Sale: 15 Luke James, 14 Byron McGuigan, 13 Robert du Preez, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Jono Ross (c), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Jean-Luc du Preez, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Ewan Ashman, 1 Bevan Rodd
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Gus Warr, 22 Sam James, 23 Simon Hammersley

Date: Friday, January 7
Venue: Ashton Gate
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, Jamie Leahy
TMO: Tom Foley

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