Richards puts faith in aggressive policy

Leicester Tigers have had their claws in the Allied Dunbar Premiership crown since mid-March and today they have the chance to put the bite on their rivals when they take on Sale at Heywood Road.

The Cheshire club is languishing next from bottom in the table having won one of their last eight Premiership matches; Leicester, in contrast, are bidding for their ninth successive league win.

With nearest rivals Northampton looking footsore after marching on three fronts - league, Tetley's Bitter Cup and Heineken European Cup - and facing a rejuvenated Bath at Franklin's Gardens, a near full-strength Tigers side is determined to wrap things up as quickly and as efficiently as possible, beginning with victory this afternoon.

Dean Richards, the team manager, said: "We are going to Sale to win. I do not care by how many points, just as long as we get the match points - the only ones that matter. We are in the driving seat at the moment, but there are still three teams in contention for the title, so we are not going to take anything for granted."

If Leicester were to win the league they would become the first club in the professional era to win back-to-back Premiership titles. It is a feat that the club has been trying to play down, but there is no getting away from the fact that the Tigers are pulling clear of the field.

For all that, Sale are not all doom and gloom. Adrian Hadley, their director of rugby, said yesterday: "We have been playing better in recent weeks, during which time we have been able to field a fairly settled side. Bath's winning margin last week [30 points] was not a fair reflection of how we played."

An exhausting climax to the season is beginning to take its toll on third-placed Northampton and they have a clutch of injuries. Matt Dawson (ribs), flanker Budge Pountney (broken nose, stomach bug, ankle, knee and shoulder niggles), Jon Sleightholme (shoulder injury), Allan Bateman (ribs) and Martin Scelzo (thigh strain) are all on the casualty list.

Saints' director of coaching, John Steele, sounded resigned when he conceded: "Matt [Dawson] is very doubtful. He will have a fitness test but he is unlikely to play."

The same goes for the Wales centre Bateman, who is rated as only 50-50. The unfortunate Sleightholme is definitely out. The injury to his shoulder joint sustained in the surprise defeat at Harlequins in midweek has necessitated an operation today.

Ominously for Saints, second-placed Bath are just about at full strength. They have recalled the England A flanker Angus Gardiner, but are otherwise unchanged for the fourth successive match, Mark Regan having recovered from a leg injury.

Gloucester's title hopes have been written off, but they are still in the race for a place in Europe, though their cause has not been helped by a crisis at hooker. Chris Fortey is ruled out with a groin strain, while regular Neil McCarthy has suffered a rib injury and is a doubt. The Moroccan Jawad Djoudi is almost certain to start, but the Gloucester coach, Philippe Saint-André, may be forced to put the unfit McCarthy on the bench. Wasps' solitary doubt is the England lock Simon Shaw, who has a shoulder injury.

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashion
News
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were
News
people

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
Sport
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas