Stephen Myler admits defeat against local rivals Leicester Tigers on Saturday could end effectively end Northampton Saints’ season.
The Saints have only lost once at home since December and welcome a Tigers team that currently sit fourth in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table – one position and four points clear of their East Midlands rivals.
Saints’ form has been mixed of late however as an injury-hit squad have lost three of their last four in all competitions to slip out of the top four in the league and crash out of Europe.
And Myler admits there is much for his side to work on if they are to overcome the Tigers and gain valuable ground in the race for the semi-finals.
“This is a must-win, not just because it’s a local derby but also because of what is on offer with both sides fighting for the top four,” said the 31-year-old.
“We need to win to get back into the mix, if we don’t it will be difficult.
“Leicester – it goes without saying that they have real quality in their team, they are always there or thereabouts come the end of the season.
“It will be a big challenge but we are confident in our ability. We will look at the tape for where we think we can get at them and gain an advantage.
“But it comes down to who executes better in the crucial moments – it will be very fine margins but we have prepared well.”
Leicester Tigers' last nine fixtures have all been won by the home side on the day and the Tigers have not won on their last two visits to Franklin’s Gardens.
Leicester did however beat Northampton 30-27 at Welford Road in round 9 of this season and Tigers back-row forward Lachlan McCaffrey admits he has taken a lot of inspiration from that victory.
“It was a huge occasion to be a part of last time and it was great to get the win in the last few seconds, even though it wasn’t in the way we wanted. I haven’t played at Franklin’s Gardens before but I’ve heard it’s an electric occasion for the derby,” he said.
“In the context of the competition, you can’t put into words how big a game it will turn out to be. The boys will be exploding out of their skins and from our perspective we won’t be leaving anything out on the field – we’re ready to rip into them.”
Franklin’s Gardens 5.30pm – Live on BT Sport
Referee: Matt Carley (44th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix & Roy Maybank. TMO: Sean Davey.