Sale Sharks scrum-half Dwayne Peel insists the time for excuses is over and he and his teammates must get their season up and running against London Welsh on Friday night.
Bryan Redpath’s troops have lost their first three games at the start of this Aviva Premiership campaign to leave them 11th in the table with a single losing bonus point they gained in round two against Saracens.
Including their defeat on the final day of last season the Sharks have now lost four in a row and will be desperate to stop the rot having not lost five in a row since 2007.
The Exiles meanwhile won their first-ever Premiership game at home to Exeter Chiefs last Sunday and Peel insists that their clash with Lyn Jones’ troops is now a must-win affair.
“We’re not making excuses,” he said.
“We back ourselves to be one of the best in the country and that’s what we want to be. We haven’t shown that in the last three games. Yes you can say that Sarries, Exeter and Quins were top clubs last and very good sides, but we want to be competing with these sides.
“London Welsh are not there to be under-estimated. I’m so proud of them, obviously as a Welshman, and there’s a lot of history there and the players in that side, and it’s great for them to be at the top.
“Friday is a crucial game for us regardless of who we were playing, whether it be Welsh, Bath or Leicester – it’s a crucial game for us to win. We’ll give everything and hopefully try and get the win. We know they’re going to be a tough side and they won that game at the weekend, and they’ll fancy their chances having seen us lose our first three games.”
These two sides have not met in a competitive match since Sale gained a 16-9 win at Old Deer Park in the old Division Two in January 1989, while the Exiles' only previous visit to Sale in a major game was in the quarter-final of the 1975/76 John Player Cup at Heywood Road where again Sale were victorious 16-14.
And Exiles winger Nick Scott insists that they will not be taking their foot off the gas on Friday, despite the Sharks’ disappointing start to the season.
“We are not going to be fooled by Sale’s poor results so far,” he said.
“We know what a good side they are with quality, world class individuals all over the pitch.
“They are keen to get their first win of the season and it’s up to us to make sure that that does not happen.
“We are desperate to start building momentum and get a second win as soon as we can after our first.”
Referee: Greg Garner (38th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Paul Burton, Alan Hughes