- What: Bristol vs Sale Sharks
- When: Friday, January 5th
- Where: AJ Bell Stadium
It’s matchday 11 of 18 this weekend in Premiership Rugby in England. On Friday, we have an intriguing clash on our hands between Bristol Rugby and the Sale Sharks, which is a big rivalry game. The kick-off is scheduled for 2:45 PM EST at AJ Bell Stadium, located in Manchester. Bristol is coming off a loss to Exeter last week and will be looking to bounce back. Sale also needs a win, having fallen to Northampton on matchday 10. Keep reading below for our Bristol vs Sale Sharks picks.
Bristol vs Sale Odds
Sale is a massive favorite here with -450 odds for an implied win probability of 81.82%. Bristol comes back at +325 and has a 23.53% chance of taking this one. The Sharks have dominated Bristol in recent memory, winning seven of their last eight meetings with them.
Bristol is not having a great season. They’re eighth in the Premiership table with a 4-0-6 record. The Bears are in rather poor form at the moment too, winning a mere two times in their previous eight league games. Those victories also came against two of the worst teams in the Premiership in Gloucester and Newcastle. Things haven’t gone too well on the road either, losing three of four.
Bristol had a respectable time in cup play last month where they went 1-1 against two French clubs. After that concluded, the Bears took down Newcastle but Exeter handled them a week ago at Ashton Gate. On a more positive note, most of their losses have been relatively close, only losing by more than 10 points once. Coincidentally enough, that came against Sale, who beat them 27-13 earlier in the campaign.
It’s rare for Bristol to win at Salford Community Stadium. The last time that happened was in 2022 in cup action in April by a score of 10-9. This is not a place the Bears have much success. And while the Newcastle win was away from home, Bristol hasn’t won back-to-back road games this season. This will be a tough one for them.
Sale’s Defense Shining
The Sharks are no strangers to success in the Premiership, winning it all twice before and also finishing as runners-up last season. Sale is one of most well-known teams in the top flight and always a force. In 2023-24, they’re third in the table with a 7-0-3 record. The only reason the Sharks aren’t in first is due to their point differential, which isn’t as good as Exeter and Northampton, who are slightly above them.
Defensively, Sale is sharp. They’ve allowed the fewest tries in the Premiership and the second-fewest number of points. The Sharks have also won four of their last six league games. In other words, this club is in good form at the moment. Anchoring the defense is Ernst van Rhyn, who leads the Premiership in tackles with 164. Without him, Sale would not be this good.
Sale has also won more scrum penalties than any other team this season and have a fantastic kicker in Gus Warr. He’s made 20 kicks and has the most contestable kicks with 44. The Sharks biggest win of the campaign came against bottom of the table Newcastle, 40-22. Overall, they haven’t annihilated their opponents, but the Sharks are a pretty consistent team with lots of weapons. They also tend to play very well at home. There’s only one notable injury concern here with fly-half George Ford out, so Rob du Preez will slot into his position for this one.
Bristol vs Sale Sharks Picks
Sale’s record against Bristol speaks for itself. With the moneyline not offering a ton of value here, I’m liking the spread at 9.5. The Sharks are simply a better team and should handle this one with ease in front of their home fans.
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