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Braid wants perfection from Sale Sharks

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Sale Sharks skipper Dan Braid is demanding near-flawless rugby from his charges between now and the end of the Aviva Premiership Rugby season.

With three league games to play Sale lie seventh in the table, five points back from Wasps and the top six.

A top-half finish would see them secure a return to the European Rugby Champions Cup next season, while seventh could see the Sharks pitted against their French counterparts in a play-off.

That would depend on the outcome of next month’s Challenge Cup final, with victory for Gloucester Rugby over Edinburgh earning them a place in that two-legged tie instead.

The aim for Sale, therefore, is to put qualification beyond doubt and after defeat at London Irish in their last Aviva Premiership Rugby outing, Braid is expecting an improvement.

“There is no room for errors now,” he said. “With everything to play for we’ve got to get back to our home form.

“By this time of the season we know what we’re doing and we know other teams are doing the same. How you play the game is pretty set.

“You can bring in a few variations for the team that you play against each week but especially with the way the games are now, week on week off, it’s all about being fresh, flicking the switch when you’re on the training pitch and then really nailing your opportunities when you’re in the game.”

The 25-23 reversal at London Irish has had time to stew at the AJ Bell Stadium, with Sale taking a weekend off from competitive action.

They return on Saturday by hosting Harlequins before Newcastle Falcons come to visit and Exeter Chiefs host them on the final day of the regular season.

And with two of those three clashes at home, Braid is hoping the Sale Sharks faithful can play their part in a productive run-in.

“The Irish game was very disappointing,” added Braid. “We played some good rugby in patches but we let ourselves down with a couple of decisions and we weren’t smart, especially around the maul by allowing Irish to do what they wanted.

“After a game like that, having a weekend off is more time to dwell on it so we’re really looking forward to this weekend.

“There’s the travel factor and I don’t think our away performances have been as good as they were last season. I don’t think we’ve got a good track record away to Irish anyway, but it’s hard to put your finger on why we weren’t there.

“I think there’s that fired up feeling at home, when you’re playing on your own patch and protecting your home ground. You have to match that and if you’re off by a few per cent as a visiting side you’re going to get beat.

“The loss against Irish has made our task tougher but we’re very motivated to maintain the form we’ve had at home.”

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