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Vunipola: Saracens expecting tough test from Sale Sharks

Saracens may be facing familiar Aviva Premiership Rugby foes in back-to-back European games, but Billy Vunipola admits his side’s task is not made easier by Sale Sharks’ recent stellar form.

While the Sharks have won three consecutive league games, including an impressive triumph over Harlequins at the Stoop, Mark McCall’s side are winless in their last three encounters following defeat to Exeter Chiefs last weekend.

Despite an impressive bonus-point victory over Clermont Auvergne, the London outfit are also looking to get back to winning ways in Europe after a tough defeat to Munster last time out.

Their chances are boosted by the return of England international Vunipola to the starting line-up for Saturday’s clash at the AJ Bell Stadium after the No.8 missed the defeat to Exeter with a head knock.

And although the 22-year-old has urged his players not to let their chance to reach the knockout stages slip, he is not taking the challenge posed by Steve Diamond’s side for granted.

“I’m very excited. It’s a big game, and after our loss against Munster it’s important that we get as much as we can from the next few games, and that starts now,” he said.

“After last weekend’s result it’s important that we get back on the horse and that starts against Sale on Saturday.

“It’s a great opportunity for us. It will be great to be back out there, get back to doing what we do best, and get back to playing the way we like to play.

“They came down to The Stoop and beat Quins and they ran us close when we played them earlier this season so they’re a really good side.

“They’re led by some great coaches in Steve Diamond and Bryan Redpath, and are a well-drilled outfit with match winners throughout their side.  We’re going to have to be at our best.”

Vunipola’s sentiments were echoed by scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth, who believes the next two fixtures represent a make-or-break opportunity if Saracens are going to emulate their run to the final last year.

“We know that these next two games will define what we can do for the rest of the season in Europe,” he said.

“We’re aware of just how big the game is, and that will probably add a bit of spice to it.

“The mood in the camp is fine. We’ve always dealt with set-backs at this club really well and we never overreact.

“There’s only one way to put things right and that’s hard work, and this week the lads have really been putting it in.

“We know how well Sale are playing, so it’s going to be doubly difficult away from home. We know we’re going to have to play really well to get a result.”

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.

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