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Lewis Moody to lead out Tigers on Sunday

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Lewis Moody will captain Leicester Tigers in front of a 24,000 capacity crowd at Welford Road in Sunday's Guinness Premiership fixture against Sale Sharks (2pm).

The England international flanker leads the team out on home soil for the first time, with head coach Richard Cockerill making three changes to the side that started last Saturday’s Heineken Cup victory over Clermont Auvergne.

Dan Cole starts at tighthead after replacing the injured Martin Castrogiovanni in the early stages of last week’s game, while Ben Kay returns to the second row in place of the rested Louis Deacon, and Johne Murphy reclaims a place in the backline.

The replacements bench includes flanker Ben Woods who has not played since suffering a foot injury in the win at Harlequins in Round 2, and Sam Vesty who is in line for his first appearance of the season after a hamstring injury.

“I thought we played really well last weekend and now we need to take that intensity back into our Guinness Premiership fixtures,” said head coach Richard Cockerill.

“Sale have had a couple of wins in Europe and they are playing some good rugby. This is a very close competition and with a couple of wins you can go from eighth to fourth, or a couple of defeats can take you the other way.

“With 24,000 supporters in the stadium on a holiday afternoon, I’m sure there’ll be a cracking atmosphere.”

Castrogiovanni, Aaron Mauger, Richard Blaze, Geordan Murphy and Julian White are sidelined by injury.

The last tickets for Sunday’s game were sold almost two weeks ago, making Sunday’s fixture the third sell-out of the season at the expanded Welford Road. Tickets are now on sale for the opening home game of the new year, against London Wasps on Saturday, January 9 (5.30pm kick-off).

Leicester Tigers (v Sale Sharks, Welford Road, Sunday 2pm)
15 Scott Hamilton
14 Johne Murphy
13 Dan Hipkiss
12 Anthony Allen
11 Lote Tuqiri
10 Toby Flood
9 Ben Youngs
1 Marcos Ayerza
2 Mefin Davies
3 Dan Cole
4 Geoff Parling
5 Ben Kay
6 Craig Newby
7 Lewis Moody (c)
8 Jordan Crane

16 George Chuter
17 Boris Stankovich
18 Robbie Harris
19 Calum Green
20 Ben Woods
21 Harry Ellis
22 Sam Vesty
23 Alesana Tuilagi

Sale Sharks include former Tigers flanker Luke Abraham in their line-up for Sunday.

Director of rugby Kingsley Jones said: "We have come off the back of two great results and a lot of the players need a break, so we are giving some of the squad members a chance.

“We have a tough month ahead and we need all our players to be match fit. I have rested Mark Cueto and Mathew Tait as they were due a break under the EPS regulations, but I am delighted that Kristian Ormsby returns."

Sale Sharks: 15 Marika Vakacegu, 14 Oriol Ripol, 13 Jonny Kennedy, 12 David Bishop, 11 Ben Cohen, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth; 1 Gavin Kerr, 2 Marc Jones, 3 Martin Halsall, 4 Chris Jones, 5 Sean Cox, 6 James Gaskell, 7 Luke Abraham, 8 Kristian Ormsby. Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Rob O'Donnell, 18 Jack Forster, 19 Dean Schofield, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 Chris Leck, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Dave Docherty