Another narrow defeat may have ended Sale Sharks’ European hopes but, according to second row Andrei Ostrikov, nothing changes.
After kicking off their European Rugby Champions Cup campaign with a nail-biting 27-26 loss to Munster in October, Saturday’s 19-15 reversal against Saracens was an agonising blow for Steve Diamond’s side.
With two points to their name and just three games left, Sale cannot now make the knockout stages and will face a trip to Allianz Park on Saturday.
With three of last year’s four European Cup semi-finalists in their pool, the Sharks would always have been expecting a tough task.
But Ostrikov, who scored a try in vain at the AJ Bell Stadium last weekend, is hoping to see Sale lick their wounds and gain a measure of revenge over Sarries on Saturday.
“It was a very difficult game,” he said. “Saracens could have won and we could have won – we were maybe just a little bit unlucky but they defended and played pretty well and we unfortunately lost.
“We're disappointed, of course, because it was very close. We almost won and we had won three games in a row before that.
“We want to keep winning games so it was disappointing but, you know, it's a tough competition. Saracens, Clermont and every team we play against, it's tough.
“[Scoring a try] was a good moment for me. I was happy – everybody is happy who scores tries especially against Saracens.
“Every game we play, our target is to get a good result for us, especially next game – we only have positive thoughts.
“We have to improve every part of the game that wasn’t good and it doesn't matter if we play here or there, the object will be to show good resolve.”
And after three straight Aviva Premiership Rugby wins – against London Irish, Harlequins and Newcastle Falcons – league clashes with Exeter Chiefs and Leicester Tigers before the New Year are also on Ostrikov’s mind.
He added: “They're very important games but every game is important, even this next game against Saracens. Against Exeter in the Premiership at home will be a very good chance to enter the top four, so for us they're massive games.
“The Premiership is one of the best competitions in the world and you always have to stay in good shape, have a good mentality and stay positive. You have to work hard but I’m enjoying it.”
This Christmas, Premiership Rugby is offering fans a special gift with selected tickets for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2015. Click here to find out about this limited offer.