Sale Sharks might have secured their Aviva Premiership safety ahead of a trip to Northampton Saints but Kiwi Dan Braid doesn’t want anyone taking their foot off the gas in front of the Sky cameras this weekend.
Friday night’s 32-9 victory over Gloucester Rugby coupled with London Welsh going down 31-14 to Northampton Saints 48 hours later means Sale are 13 points clear of the bottom with just ten points left to play for.
The demolition of the Cherry & Whites was Sale’s third straight game without a loss, however they head to Franklin’s Gardens on Sunday with just one away win under their belt this season – this a 26-25 over London Welsh in round 15.
History doesn’t look to be on the Sharks’ side either with Sale having beaten the Saints just once in their last eight encounters in all competitions, as well as having not lowered Northampton's colours at Franklin's Gardens since a 36-34 victory in May 2006.
And while on paper Sale have little more than just pride to play for in their final two games, flanker Braid is adamant no one is going to take it easy at Northampton with what they do in their final two games set to affect how they kick-start next season.
“We’re playing some good footie at the moment but it will be a tough ask against a tough Northampton pack, but we’ve got to front up and give it a crack before the last game at home, which we will look to finish on a high,” Braid said.
“I think in life when you go through tough times you learn the most, the squad have learnt how to deal with adversity this year as a group and we’re confident that next year if we play well together we can get results.
“We need to set standards next year, playing simple rugby that everyone understands and really fronting up on the field.”
While Sale are happy to have nothing to fight for following their trials and tribulations this term, Saints have plenty to still contend as they bid for the bonus-point victory that would guarantee them an Aviva Premiership semi-final for the fourth year in a row.
And although Saints’ play-off push was given a helping hand by Sale when they downed Gloucester on Friday night, scrum-half Lee Dickson isn’t about to repay the favour.
Dickson said: “It’s going to be a massive game, Sale can throw the ball around as well and they are a dangerous side with some very good players all over the park.
“It’s another massive 80 minutes for us, it’s almost like a semi-final in itself, our maul will need to be good, we’ll need to be on the top of our game.
“They helped us out last weekend with their result at Gloucester and we’ve watched that game in preparation for this weekend, we’ll need to be spot on in terms of intensity.”
Referee: Luke Pearce (13th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Watson & Kevin Stewart. TMO: Graham Hughes.
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