Eleven-point favourites at the start of the week, Sale Sharks are now -14 after Thursday’s team announcements.
By naming his two first-choice half-backs, Faf de Klerk and AJ MacGinty, in the starting XV, along with other big players like Lions squad member, Tom Curry, Sharks DoR Alex Sanderson has made his intentions clear that this is a game they are desperate to win.
Leicester on the other hand have opted to rotate, and the absentees include England duo, George Ford and Ellis Genge, who are out of the squad altogether, whilst the Tigers’ two most in-form players, Jasper Wiese and Freddie Steward have to settle for a place on the bench.
With just five rounds remaining in the Gallagher Premiership season, Sharks are in third place with 55 points, just three behind defending champions Exeter Chiefs in second place. Victory would lift them above the Chiefs, for 24 hours at least, in the pursuit of a home semi-final.
Tigers are in eighth place in the table, in a group of clubs separated by just a handful of points, and their priorities lie elsewhere, with a European Challenge Cup final to look forward to in a fortnight’s time.
Friday night’s clash with bring up a century of meetings between the teams. In 99 previous encounters between the clubs, Tigers have 67 wins, to 27 by Sale and five matches drawn. But Tigers have struggled in more recent years and the Sharks look a sure-fire bet to make it six wins on the bounce in the fixture.
Whether they are ruthless enough to win by at least two converted tries is open to debate. Only twice this season have they won by such a margin or more, and you’d back Leicester, even with their weakened line-up, to fare better than Newcastle and London Irish did on those two occasions.
In terms of anytime try-scorers, MacGinty (4/1) is in superb form for the Sharks and has played well against Leicester in the past, scoring a try against them last September.
He may have gone 15 Premiership games without a try but his well-taken Champions Cup effort against Scarlets in April suggests he has got the bit between his teeth.
Sale Sharks: 15. Luke James, 14. Byron McGuigan, 13. Sam James, 12. Sam Hill, 11. Marland Yarde, 10. AJ MacGinty, 9. Faf De Klerk; 1. Bevan Rodd, 2. Akker van der Merwe, 3. Coenie Oosthuizen, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Josh Beaumont (Capt.) 6. Jean-Luc du Preez, 7. Tom Curry, 8. Daniel du Preez.
Replacements: 16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Ross Harrison, 18. Will-Griff John, 19. James Phillips, 20. Cameron Nield, 21. Raffi Quirke, 22. Kieran Wilkinson, 23. Connor Doherty.
Leicester: 15 Zack Henry, 14 Kobus Van Wyk, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Kini Murimurivalu, 10 Johnny McPhillips, 9 Ben Youngs (c), 1 Luan de Bruin, 2 Charlie Clare, 3 Joe Heyes, 4 Cameron Henderson, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 6 George Martin, 7 Cyle Brink, 8 Hanro Liebenberg.
Replacements: 16 Nic Dolly, 17 James Whitcombe, 18 Will Hurd, 19 Calum Green, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Jack Van Poortvliet, 22 David Williams, 23 Freddie Stewar