Gloucester Rugby have not beaten Sale Sharks on their home turf since 2002 but according to Cherry and Whites wing Charlie Sharples that could all change on Friday night.
Nigel Davies’ men have won only two of their last eight Aviva Premiership fixtures – but both of those wins came in December against Worcester Warriors and London Irish, prompting Sharples to insist Gloucester have finally started to find some form.
A win for Gloucester in Manchester this weekend looks a tall order indeed – the Cherry and Whites have only recorded two away wins in the Premiership this season; at Newcastle in September and at London Irish over Christmas.
While Gloucester's only victory in their last five matches against Sale in the Premiership was a 29-3 at Kingsholm in November 2012.
The statistics might all point to a Sale win but Sharples is backing Gloucester to give a good account when it matters most on Friday.
“We know they’re a good team and they beat us at the start of the season, which was a tough one to take,” said Sharples.
“We lost up there in the last game of last season as well so we know they can be a dangerous side.
“We’ve had a decent few weeks in the Aviva Premiership when we beat Worcester and London Irish and that gave us a bit of breathing space.
“It got us out of that danger zone and now we want to keep putting the performances in and we know when we click we can climb the table.”
Sale Sharks won their round 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby fixture 16-8 at Newcastle, but have not recorded back-to-back victories in the competition in the same season since last February.
Last time out they stumbled to an uncharacteristic 37-36 loss against the Ospreys in the LV= Cup and prop Ross Harrison insists Sale are desperate to make amends for their narrow loss.
“All games are going to be hard no matter what team they put out, it is such a high standard throughout the squad, so we have just got to play the team that arrives and beat them on the day,” said Harrison.
“It will be a very tough game, Gloucester are always a good team, they are big up front and the backs are very dangerous so we need to perform.
“They are a top class team and we cannot take them lightly, we need to get stuck in and do our best.
“We just have to go back to what we are good at and focus on our game. We were a bit off our usual high standards last week so the best thing to do is go back to what we are good at, the basics, and try to do them well.
“We were disappointed after the last result but it is more that we set ourselves such high standards and we did not meet them.
“The coaching team take their job very seriously, which reflects on us and when we play badly it rebounds on them, so that is not what we are really about.”
(AJ Bell Stadium, 8pm)
Referee: Matthew Carley (8th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Gordon Goodliffe & Ashley Rowden. TMO: Trevor Fisher.