Round-up: Wary Sale planning to bank on Coutts

Sale Sharks should take a major step today towards achieving their twin targets for the season - lifting a trophy and finishing in the top four of the Zurich Premiership.

Despite leading 25-18 from the first leg in Ireland, Sale will guard against complacency when they entertain their European Challenge Cup semi-final opponents Connacht at Edgeley Park this afternoon.

"I'm pleased to go into the second leg seven points ahead, but I'm not pleased we conceded a soft late try when our advantage should have been 14 points," Kingsley Jones, Sale's head coach, said.

"It is very important we get to the final - we want that badly. If you win the European Challenge Cup, it is a route into the Heineken Cup. But a cup final is also such a great day out for the fans."

Sale have called up the former Ebbw Vale prop Ben Coutts while Andy Titterrell reverts to hooker following a stint as a flanker and fellow Lions selection Charlie Hodgson returns at fly-half.

Success today will earn Sale a place in the final at the Kassam Stadium, Oxford, on Saturday, May 21, against Pau, who shaded an all-French semi-final against Brive 50-43 on aggregate over the two legs.

Meanwhile, Bath have the chance today to leapfrog Sale into third place in the Premiership and make amends for their disappointing Powergen final defeat by Leeds at Twickenham last weekend.

Anticipating the meeting with relegation-threatened London Irish at the Madejski Stadium, Bath's head coach John Connolly said: "We just have to focus on the positives. We won a lot of ball and got ourselves into good positions [against Leeds]. We just need to ensure the execution is a lot better this time."

The Exiles are one of five teams who could still drop through the Premiership's trapdoor in favour of National League One champions Bristol next season. But by the same token, victories over Bath and in their final game against Newcastle could earn them a wildcard play-off spot and, potentially, Heineken Cup qualification. "Irish simply have to win their games, and that makes them dangerous," Connolly said.

Steve Borthwick is sidelined by a shoulder injury, so Rob Fidler continues alongside Danny Grewcock in the Bath second row, and Martyn Wood starts at scrum-half ahead of Nick Walshe.

For Irish, Mike Catt has been denied the opportunity to face his former club because of a knee injury, so Nils Mordt deputises at centre.

Canterbury Crusaders moved up to second in the Super 12 table with a thrilling, 40-36 victory over South Africa's Cats in Christchurch. The Sharks went down to a narrow away defeat - 30-25 to the Reds in Brisbane - but the third South African side in action, the Bulls, edged Waikato Chiefs 29-26 in Pretoria.

Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
world cup 2014A history of the third-place play-offs
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice