Saracens boast the star names to end Sale's decent run
Premiership top spot in Sarries' sights
BT Sport 1, 7.45pm Friday
At the start of the year Saracens were looking up in the Premiership table at a ten-point gap between themselves and leaders Exeter. Two matches later the difference is down to two points and Sarries are favourites to leapfrog the champions Chiefs and go top with victory over Sale.
Saracens have been one of the teams hardest hit by international call-ups in recent seasons and they hit a blip with three successive defeats in late November and early December.
But their team to take on the Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium is packed with international talent even given the absence of Maro Itoje, Bill Vunipola, Owen Farrell and others.
Liam Williams is raring to prove his fitness for Wales and lines up in an all-international back division, England squad member Alex Lozowski starts at fly-half outside Ben Spencer, while an all-England second-row pairing of Nick Isiekwe and George Kruis power the pack.
There's less experience on the bench but Sarries will surely look to stamp their authority early. Seven of their ten Premiership victories have been by more than 20 points and they have won their last four.
Sale have just one league defeat in their last six to their name, but those wins have come against Northampton, Worcester, Harlequins and London Irish - the bottom four sides in the table - plus a comfortable win at Bath.
The Sharks had won just two of their previous eight, including a five try to two demolition at Sarries. This looks a big step up on Sale's most recent outings and the visitors look set to stamp their dominance to cover a modest handicap.
Newcastle have won their last five home matches in all competitions and are six-point favourites to make it six with a home success over Bath.
The Falcons are strengthened by the return of former England fly-half Toby Flood, who missed last weekend's defeat at Saracens with a head injury, and have flair out wide in Vereniki Goneva and Sinoti Sinoti.
Bath give a debut to winger Cooper Vuna while Zach Mercer is available from the England camp but they are missing Anthony Watson and Jonathan Joseph from their backline among others and the hosts look worth backing for a narrow win. Seven of Newcastle's eight league victories have been by no more than 12 points.
2pts Evs Betway
Newcastle to win by one to 12 points
1pt 15-8 Sky Bet
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