Sale vs La Rochelle Prediction: Mighty La Rochelle look too good for toothless Sharks

 | January 20 | 

3 mins read

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Two-time defending champions La Rochelle lost their opening two Champions Cup matches but ignited their campaign with last weekend's 45-12 win over Leicester.

They face Sale on Sunday, another team who know that a victory will see them qualify for the knockout stages, but one that has lost their last three and had to contend with a long trip back from Cape Town following last weekend's 31-24 defeat to Stormers.

That has heaped the pressure on Alex Sanderson's side and the visit of La Rochelle, arguably the most physical side in Europe, may have come at precisely the wrong time.

Sale vs Richelle betting tips

  • La Rochelle to win by 12 points or more @ 6/5

Match odds

Sale's recent home loss to Bristol was their first in either the Premiership or Europe since Toulouse won in Salford last January.

That might prompt punters to see value in their 7/2 odds, while La Rochelle are available at 1/4 and the tie 25/1.

The visitors are -9 on the handicap, available at 10/1, while Sale are 18/5 to triumph by 1-12 points inclusive.

Team news

Sale have made five changes to their side for Sunday's match. Academy prop Tumy Onasanya makes his first Champions Cup start and is joined in the front row by hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie and tighthead Nick Schonert.

George Ford also comes in at number 10, prompting Rob Du Preez to move back to outside centre, while Tom Roebuck is included on the right wing.

La Rochelle have made two alterations, with Quentin Lespiaucq starting at hooker and Yoan Tenga included in the centres.

There is also a familiar face as former Exeter and England man Jack Nowell is included on the bench.

La Rochelle to win by 12 points or more @ 6/5

La Rochelle struggled early on in this competition but, in typical style, came to life just when they needed to and were far too good for Leicester.

Size is the order of the day and Ronan O'Gara's muscular forwards will target the Sharks' pack and look to provide a platform for a back-line that, similar to those in front of them, prefers to go through or over the top of their opponents, rather than around them.

That was the blueprint last weekend, with hooker Pierre Bourgarit and lock Will Skelton going over for their first two tries before centre Ulupano Seuteni and winger Teddy Thomas both grabbed a brace apiece.

Sale won the pair's last meeting in Salford, but that was back in 2019. Both have improved immensely over the intervening period but, while the Sharks' dip in form hints that they are dropping off at the wrong time, La Rochelle's recent rumblings suggest bigger things to come.

Sanderson may frame Sunday's match as a shot to nothing for his team as they look to arrest a run of three straight defeats, but the visitors have won their last three, all by nine or more points.

That is the three-way handicap benchmark at the time of writing, but La Rochelle's power is a real point of difference and their winning margin could stretch beyond 12 points.

La Rochelle to win by 12 points or more

Rugby Union betting tips, from Betfred Insights.

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