Updated: Saturday, 25th January 2020 @ 8:25am

'Northern welcome': Sale's Diamond prepares Sharks to shine against Montpellier

'Northern welcome': Sale's Diamond prepares Sharks to shine against Montpellier

| By Eve Langford

Sale Sharks are hoping their fortress will hold firm as mighty French side Montpellier enter the AJ Bell Stadium tonight.

The Sharks have remained unbeaten at home for over a year but their European Challenge Cup quarter final may be their toughest test yet.

Sale have won the tournament twice since its inception in 1996, and have home advantage after topping their group in January.

Steve Diamond is aware of the huge challenge facing his team: "They are one of the super French sides,” he said. 

“They are full of South African and French internationals, and second in Top 14 and are formidable opposition.

"The bigger the opposition for us, the team responds really well, so bring them on.”

The Sharks director of rugby noted that Montpellier boast a squad full of renowned international players, and pose a greater threat than previous French opponents Castres and Pau.

"Montpellier are a different kettle of fish, you'll see the du Plessis brothers, Steyn, Mogg and many more,” he said.

“They've got a fantastic team, and we've got to give them a ‘Northern Welcome’. 

“Our home record is good, and we are proud of it and doing out utmost to keep it in tact at the weekend.”

Sale had the best defensive record in the pool stages of the tournament conceding just nine tries, a record which David Seymour wants to maintain.

“If we can get our defence right against Montpellier, then it takes us a long way to getting the result that we want,” he said.

"They are on form in their league, they have a lot of South Africans there, some quality French players and obviously they have Jake White as a coach.

"It is going to be a massive challenge for us. We are back at home and we have a good record at the AJ Bell, but it is going to be a very different task for us come Friday night.

"The boys are really up for it. It is not often that you get to play in a quarter final and have the chance to get to the semis of a European competition, so we are all looking forward to it.”

Sale Sharks: 15. Mike Haley, 14. Tom Brady, 13. Sam James, 12. Johnny Leota, 11. Nev Edwards, 10. Danny Cipriani, 9. Peter Stringer, 1. Ross Harrison, 2. Tommy Taylor, 3. Vadim Cobilas, 4. Bryn Evans, 5. Andrei Ostrikov, 6. Cameron Neild, 7. Magnus Lund (c), 8. TJ Ioane

Replacements: 16. Neil Briggs, 17. Eifion Lewis Roberts, 18. Brian Mujati, 19. Jonathan Mills, 20. David Seymour, 21. James Mitchell, 22. Joe Ford, 23. Mark Jennings

Image courtesy of Sale Sharks via YouTube, with thanks.