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Saracens who will be firm favourites to beat Sale Sharks

Nick Tompkins can make sure he’s in good nick going into the Rugby World Cup by becoming a winner in the English Premiership final this weekend.

The Wales centre lines up for Saracens who will be firm favourites to beat Sale Sharks at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon.

Tompkins may not be a certain starter for Wales for every international, but for Sarries he’s consistently selected as the go-to man in their midfield inside their talisman, Owen Farrell.

The 28-year-old has played 19 matches this season for the club he joined a decade ago and this will be his third final.

Tompkins was a winner in 2019, but a loser last year when he and fellow Welsh international Aled Davies were beaten by a Leicester side inspired by Tommy Reffell.

Scrum-half Davies – who was not included in Wales’ World Cup squad after falling five short of the 25-cap threshold for players based outside of Wales – starts on the bench.

Sarries used to be the team to fear in England over the course of the season, but they have lost some of that aura on the big day of the Premiership final itself.

This is their ninth Gallagher Premiership final appearance, where they have been crowned champions on five previous occasions, but not since 2019.

Nor are they a team in great form, having lost three of their last five matches in all competitions – to Bath, Northampton and La Rochelle.

Saracens’ defeat in last season’s final ended a run of eight successive victories at Twickenham since they lost the 2014 Premiership final there to Northampton after extra time.

Sale have played in just one previous Gallagher Premiership final, in 2006 when they beat Leicester 45-20.

Former Wales centre and Grand Slam winner Mark Taylor played in that game 17 years ago.

Both sides won their respective home games when the two clubs met in the regular league season.

The Sharks’ 35-24 victory at Salford City Stadium in March ended a run of three successive defeats to Saracens.

The teams have never met in a final or played each other at a neutral venue before.

Sarries coach Mark McCall has seen it all and done it all, but he has been impressed by his opposite number Alex Sanderson, who is in his second season after taking over from Steve Diamond.

“I am not at all surprised that Al has done the job there that he has,” says McCall.

“He is a brilliant coach, a brilliant communicator, smart about the game, and a really, really top person as well. I am delighted he has done as well as he has done, but I hope we get one over on him.”

Both teams have both made just one change from their respective semi-final sides for the final.

Eroni Mawi starts in place of Mako Vunipola at loose-head prop for Sarries, while Sam Dugdale comes in for injured flanker Ben Curry for Sale.

Saracens: Goode; Malins, Lozowski, Tompkins, Maitland; Farrell (capt), Van Zyl; Mawi, George, Riccioni, Itoje, Tizard, Isiekwe, Earl, Wray.

Replacements: Dan, M Vunipola, Judge, Hunter-Hill, Knight, De Haas, Taylor, Daly.

Sale Sharks: Carpenter; Roebuck, R Du Preez, Tuilagi, Reed; Ford, Warr; McIntyre, Van der Merwe, Schonert, J-L Du Preez, Hill, T Curry, Dugdale, Ross (capt).

Replacements: Ashman, Rodd, Oosthuizen, Beaumont, Ellis, Quirke, James, O’Flaherty.

Referee: Luke Pearce

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