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Ford and Sale Sharks keeping the faith

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Sale Sharks could see their hopes of a European Rugby Champions Cup return dealt a hefty blow on Friday but Joe Ford is keeping his fingers crossed.

Sale lie seventh in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table with two rounds to go – eight points behind Wasps in sixth – knowing that could be good enough for an end-of-season European play-off.

However, should Gloucester Rugby beat Edinburgh to lift the European Rugby Challenge Cup trophy, that will not be the case.

The Cherry & Whites would book their spot in the play-off, forcing Steve Diamond’s side off Europe’s top table next season – unless they can slip into the top half.

Ford, however, admits little can be done, other than watching Friday night’s clash at the Twickenham Stoop and making sure Sale win their final two Aviva Premiership Rugby clashes.

“Maybe a few of us will get together and watch it,” said Ford on the Challenge Cup final. “I guess most of us will watch it with a close eye and see what happens, it’s out of our hands now.

“If Edinburgh can do us a favour then it’s back in our hands and we’ll be ready for it. The play-off would be massive for us, two cup finals to get us into Europe.

“That would get us to where we wanted to be at the start of the season, which was in Europe.

“Nathan Fowles is up there at Edinburgh on loan so we know him pretty well and I’m sure they’ll be a few texts going between the boys.

“But Gloucester are in form and I think it’ll be a good game that could go either way.”

Whatever happens on Friday, Sale are in for an enthralling season run-in, with Newcastle Falcons visiting the AJ Bell Stadium before the Sharks travel to Exeter Chiefs.

And after back-to-back narrow defeats at the hands of London Irish and Harlequins – both 25-23 – fly-half Ford is eager to get back to winnings ways.

“We’ve reviewed the defeat to Harlequins and been honest with each other and look now forward, we have look ahead to Newcastle now,” he added.

“If you watch the games we’ve been good. We’ve been really good at times and then really bad, there’s no in-between where we have a period where we get it together.

“I don’t think we’re far off, there are just a couple of things to change and a few tweaks to make. We need to keep it simple and play to our strengths.”

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