Wing Charlie Sharples insists Gloucester Rugby are determined to derail Sale Sharks’ march towards Aviva Premiership safety in their televised clash on Friday night.
Sale are unbeaten in two in the Aviva Premiership and have lost just three of their last eight to sit eight points above bottom club London Welsh in 11th in the table.
However the Sharks have not managed three matches without defeat in the Aviva Premiership since September 2011 and meet a Gloucester outfit on form themselves.
The Cherry & Whites have won three of their last four Aviva Premiership fixtures and are very much in contention to finish in the top four, sitting level on points with fourth-placed Northampton Saints.
And, while Sharples would prefer to be facing a Sale outfit with little more than pride to play before, he admits Gloucester have no plans to let up in pursuit of a top-four place in front of the ESPN cameras.
“In terms of the table it’s a side at the higher end of the table against one at the lower end, so it looks like it might be a comfortable victory – unfortunately that’s rarely the case,” said Sharples.
“The way the league is at present, you never have an easy game at any stage of the season, even though Sale are second from bottom they have shown some good form.
“It would be nice to think they would take their foot off the gas, but I don’t think that is going to happen. They will want to be as comfortable as possible and away from London Welsh at the bottom.
“They will be disappointed with the way their season has gone and looking to win as many games between now and the end of the season as possible.
“We know we have to go up there and get something, it’s a must win game for us.”
Gloucester haven’t won away from home in the Aviva Premiership since their 27-11 defeat of Northampton on February 9 and haven’t done the double over Sale for more than a decade.
And Sharks fly-half Nick Macleod admits they are wary of a Gloucester backlash having closed the door on their Heineken Cup hopes with a 24-19 defeat at Kingsholm almost 12 months ago.
“They are obviously going to come up here with the strongest squad they possibly can so I am sure they will have targeted this game and looking forward to getting into the top for,” said Macleod.
“But we’re in the same situation – we are targeting this game as a must-win to try and take us even further away from London Welsh.
“Every game of the season there is always something on it – people are striving to go into the top four, into the top six or away from relegation every game and I don’t think this is any different.”Referee: David Rose (111th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Robin Goodliffe & Roy Maybank. TMO: David Grashoff.