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Preview: Sale Sharks v Gloucester

Preview: Sale Sharks v Gloucester

Sale Sharks are desperate to bring European Champions Cup rugby back to the North West and hooker Tommy Taylor knows that starts with victory over Gloucester Rugby on Friday night.

Unbeaten at home in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season, the Sharks had to settle for two bonus points away to Bath Rugby last weekend in a thrilling game at the Rec.

Now they return to the AJ Bell Stadium knowing that a win could potentially secure their spot in the top six with a round of the regular season still to go.

Taylor, who will join Wasps at the end of the season, is expecting a tough battle against the Cherry & Whites, but is desperate to see his current team into Europe’s top competition before he goes.

He said: “A top six finish would be great, bringing Champions Cup rugby back to Manchester is huge and would bring the crowds in, that’s what the lads get excited for, that’s what you want to do in your career, play against the best sides, that’s huge.

“We always target top six at the start of the season, and evaluate, we were close to the top four at one point, a few bad results, but then we got back into the mix, and we obviously want to finish fifth.

“We’ve got two games now which we’ll go into confidently.

“Gloucester are very strong out wide and in the pack – there’s no bad team in the Premiership this season.

“You’ve got the likes of Matt Kvesic around the ball, so that’s something we’ve got to work on this week, whereas in the Bath and Montpellier games we struggled with physicality.”

Sale could yet make it into the top four, although that will require other results going their way, and any hopes would end with defeat this weekend.

Gloucester have only won once on the road in the league this season, but Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw wants them to show they can challenge the Sharks, despite their formidable home record.

"We're under no illusions that it's going to be a hard game but in the same stride we need to back ourselves and be confident in each other and the structures we put in place," Laidlaw said.

"Sale are a strong side, especially at home, they've shown that all season having only been beaten once by Montpellier in Europe. They'll be keen to protect their record.

"On the other side of the fence we'll be looking to put in a good performance and finish as high up the Premiership as we can."

(AJ Bell Stadium, 7.45pm)
Tom Foley (19th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell & Simon McConnell. TMO: Stuart Terheege.

Live on BT Sport

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