Sharks skipper eyes semifinals

Tue, 30 Aug 2016 12:56
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NEWS: Sale Sharks newly-appointed captain Josh Beaumont believes his team are to mount an assault on Premiership Rugby’s top four.

Steve Diamond’s side boasted an unrivalled home record last season, going unbeaten at the AJ Bell Stadium until their final home match of the campaign against Gloucester Rugby.

But having also drawn two of their home encounters and lost out with the last kick on more than one occasion, there is plenty of room for improvement for captain Beaumont – who had to watch on from the sidelines at the end of the last term with a dislocated shoulder.

And the England prospect insists there is no way Sale will be resting on their laurels in the coming months, with a Premiership semi-final spot very much within their capabilities.

"When we set our goals at the start of last season, we were very much aiming for a top-six spot and Champions Cup rugby qualification, and we got that," he said.

"But it definitely felt like we left a lot of points out there – there’s at least ten Aviva Premiership points we could have got from games, and if we’d had those we’d have been in the top four.

"So that was a huge frustration for us, but at the same time it gives us something more to aim at for this year. Top four is very much the aim.

"Our home form is notoriously strong, so if we keep that and really work on our away form there is no reason we can’t do it.

"It’s massively important we get ourselves into the top four early on. If you just look at the two finalists last year, Saracens and Exeter Chiefs, they were one and two for the majority of the season.

"That just shows how important the start is. You never want to be playing catch-up, so looking at the first month for us is working out how to get the amount of points to get us in that top four,"

Despite seeing the likes of Danny Cipriani and Tommy Taylor exit the club in the summer, Diamond has recruited well in Wales legend Mike Phillips, Premiership Rugby veteran Rob Webber, and Pro12 winning fly-half AJ MacGinty.

And Beaumont is confident the blend of youth and experience will serve the Sharks well heading into this season.

"It happens at clubs, you lose guys sometimes. But the players that have come in have looked really good so far and mixed really well.

"The likes of Rob Webber and Mike Phillips bring so much experience to the group as well, having been capped a huge amount of times between them, which can only help.

"Then at the other end of the scale, you have younger guys like AJ MacGinty. He is a very different player [to Danny Cipriani] but a hugely exciting one.

"It is only his second year in professional rugby really, and to see what he did in his first with Connacht you have to wonder how far this guy can go.

"He’s looked really good in preseason; he’s a great leader as a No.10, and his goal-kicking is right up there as well so hopefully it all falls into place for us,"

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 24 February 2017
Highlanders v Chiefs 06h35 Dunedin
Reds v Sharks 09h00 Brisbane
Harlequins v Leicester Tigers 17h45 Twickenham Stoop
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues 19h05 Myreside
Dragons v Leinster 19h30 Rodney Parade
Munster v Scarlets 19h35 Thomond Park
Sat, 25 February 2017
Sunwolves v Hurricanes 04h15 Tokyo
Crusaders v Brumbies 06h35 Christchurch
Waratahs v Force 08h45 Allianz Park
Saracens v Sale Sharks 12h45 Allianz Park
Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Franklin's Gardens
Exeter Chiefs v Newcastle Falcons 13h00 Sandy Park
Cheetahs v Lions 13h05 Bloemfontein
Scotland v Wales 14h25 BT Murrayfield
Kings v Jaguares 15h15 Port Elizabeth
Ireland v France 16h50 Aviva Stadium
Stormers v Bulls 17h30 Cape Town
Sun, 26 February 2017
Bristol v Bath 11h00 Ashton Gate
Treviso v Connacht 12h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Wasps v Gloucester 12h30 Ricoh Arena
Zebre v Ulster 12h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 13h05 Liberty Stadium
England v Italy 15h00 Twickenham Stadium
Mon, 27 February 2017
UCT-Ikeys v Maties 14h45 Cape Town
CUT-Ixias v UJ 16h30 Bloemfontein
Rhodes v Fort Hare 16h30 Grahamstown
CPUT v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Cape Town
UWC v TUT 16h30 Cape Town
UP-Tuks v Wits 16h30 Pretoria
Shimlas v NWU-Pukke 17h00 Bloemfontein
Thu, 02 March 2017
Force v Reds 10h30 Perth
RESULT SCORE
Thu, 23 February 2017
Rebels v Blues 18 | 56
Tue, 21 February 2017
CUT-Ixias v Shimlas 13 | 22
Mon, 20 February 2017
UJ v UP-Tuks 18 | 11
UKZN-Impi v Fort Hare 16 | 10
Maties v NMMU-Madibaz 35 | 16
UWC v Rhodes 88 | 8
TUT v WSU 13 | 17
NWU-Pukke v UCT-Ikeys 20 | 15
Sun, 19 February 2017
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints 46 | 31
Sale Sharks v Wasps 34 | 28
Sat, 18 February 2017
Connacht v Dragons 14 | 9
Ospreys v Munster 23 | 25
Leicester Tigers v Bristol 50 | 17
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 37 | 17
Bath v Harlequins 22 | 12
PREMIERSHIP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Wasps 15 11 1 3 55
Saracens 15 10 1 4 49
Exeter Chiefs 15 8 3 4 49
Bath 15 10 0 5 47
Leicester Tigers 15 9 0 6 43
Harlequins 15 8 0 7 37
Newcastle Falcons 15 7 0 8 36
Northampton Saints 15 7 0 8 35
Gloucester 15 5 2 8 34
Sale Sharks 15 5 1 9 29
Worcester Warriors 15 3 2 10 19
Bristol 15 2 0 13 13