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.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent