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Preview: Gloucester Rugby v Northampton Saints

Preview: Gloucester Rugby v Northampton Saints

It may seem like mission impossible for Gloucester Rugby to finish in the Aviva Premiership Rugby’s top-seven this season and gain European Champions Cup qualification.

But nobody at Kingsholm has given up hope ahead of this weekend’s clash with Northampton Saints.

Gloucester must claim a try-bonus point win on Saturday and hope that Sale Sharks finish up empty-handed from their visit to Newcastle Falcons.

And they must also cheer on Harlequins in the Challenge Cup final against Montpellier – which will free up another Champions Cup spot.

The Cherry and Whites have won their last two Aviva Premiership Rugby matches, at home to Exeter Chiefs and away at Sale Sharks, but have not won three in succession in the tournament since October 2012.

Gloucester's only defeat in their last five Premiership rugby fixtures at Kingsholm was to Bath Rugby in round 18 and injured Cherry and Whites’ wing Jonny May remains optimistic from the sidelines.

“We would all be lying if we didn’t say it was disappointing, I think we definitely targeted top six and to retain the Challenge Cup,” said the injured May.

“Six weeks ago we were doing really well, but for whatever reason we have had a drop off.

“We bounced back with a great win against Exeter and we have got a couple of games to finish strongly.

“We’re not good enough yet but we know it and we are going to work extremely hard over the pre-season to come back and do better next season but we will keep working hard until the final whistle has gone this weekend.”

Northampton Saints require a victory to guarantee Champions Cup rugby next season, less if other results go their way.

The Saints ended a three-game losing run in all tournaments with their 15-14 win at home to Bath last weekend.

However, Jim Mallinder’s men will need to produce a performance this weekend, with the Saints only win away from homes since early February a trip to Saracens on March 5.

Northampton are unbeaten in their last four Premiership Rugby fixtures against Gloucester since the Cherry & Whites' 26-24 win at Kingsholm in September 2013, while the Saints have won just once at Gloucester since 2009.

“Gloucester won’t be a push over especially at home and we want to finish on a high,” said England and Northampton flanker Tom Wood.

“We said we wanted to do that last week in our last home game because we wanted to give the fans something to smile about and we need to secure that top flight European rugby slot for next year and anything other than that would be a disaster.

“We are very motivated to get the job done but it will be a tough ask because Gloucester have just hit some form at the wrong time for us but we are always confident we can win on the day.”

Kingsholm – Live on BT Sport

Referee: JP Doyle (114th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Andrew Small & Andrew Pearce. TMO: Geoff Warren.

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