Sale Sharks must overcome their fiercest rival in the Northern Derby to move to the summit of the Gallagher Premiership.
Sharks have been impressive thus far – winning four from five – with a victory over the winless Newcastle Falcons expected, the Salford side will extend their unbeaten home record.
And Sale’s director of rugby Alex Sanderson will ensure his side guard against complacency due to the pride at stake in this opening tie of the Premiership’s ‘Derby Weekend’.
He said: “They call themselves the ‘True North’. Kings of the North—that’s what I want to be.
“We’ve got an old trophy somewhere that has ‘Kings of the North on it, and we can fight for that.
“You take them lightly at your own risk. The Falcons are competitive and gritty; they can cut you wide open.
“The dominance of their set piece, by way of statistical dominance, it’s the third best in the league.”
The Falcons set piece may have been a more imposing threat to the Sharks three weeks ago as their scrum and lineout were ravaged by the Exeter Chiefs in their 43-0 defeat.
However, the return of Luke Cowan-Dickie after 10 months on the side-lines through injury has reinvigorated back their once formidable set piece.
Sanderson said: “Luke was disappointed with his return; he failed on his promise of three tries, but seriously, he hurled himself into it.
“One man doesn’t make a difference, but it does.
“You only have to be a little bit off in the scrum, and that will cost you many metres.
“Last week that philosophy was justified with Luke, as the scrum just got stronger.”
Falcons know they face the herculean task of claiming their first win of the campaign with their 7:45pm Friday night visit to the impenetrable AJ Bell Stadium with the aim of humbling their high-flying bitter adversary.
Feature Image: Brendan McGilligan