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Preview: Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors

Preview: Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors

One swallow doesn’t make a summer and Val Rapava Ruskin insists Worcester Warriors are not getting carried away after their eyebrow-raising victory over Northampton Saints last weekend.

The Warriors announced their comeback to Aviva Premiership Rugby by beating perennial play-off contenders Northampton, but the challenge facing them this Friday night is of equal difficulty.

Sale Sharks are notoriously hard to conquer at the AJ Bell Stadium – indeed have only lost once at home in Aviva Premiership Rugby 2015 and that was only by two points to Harlequins.

Worcester also won their first game after promotion to the Aviva Premiership Rugby in 2011, and Rapava Ruskin insists his side cannot consider themselves comfy with life back in the top tier.

“We’re not going to stay away from the fact that we’ve been recently promoted, we’ve got many younger players in the side and we shouldn’t expect to turn up and win every game as we lack a lot of Premiership experience,” said Rapava Ruskin, who was a late dropout from Worcester’s matchday 23 in the victory over Northampton.

“But last week was an amazing result for the players and for the fans, and we had a lot of belief after a big pre-season.

“Our main objective was to play as well as we can and you never know which way the ball is going to bounce on the ground, so we have to stay humble.

“Sale are a quality side, irrespective of the results over the last couple of weeks. We know there’s no easy game throughout the year, no matter what results we manage to pull off.

“We spoke about what we accomplished last week but we are going to stay humble and they are going to be looking for a positive result as they’re always tough at home.

“I do what I can to be in the line-up every week and hopefully the coaches will decide to put me in, but it’s their decision of course.”

Sale will enter this weekend’s clash with extra motivation after being humbled by reigning champions Saracens 41-3 in north London.

And the Sharks boast an enviable record over Worcester, having beaten them the last six times in all competitions although Dean Ryan’s side is much-changed since their last meeting.

Sale full-back Mike Haley did himself much credit in the defeat to Saracens – topping 100 metres made and making three clean breaks – and he’s ready to wipe the slate clean.

“Everyone’s massively disappointed from the performance at the weekend,” he said. “That’s not the team we’ve been all pre-season, the team we’ve been building towards.

“So we’ve got back on the horse with some good training sessions and we’re building towards Worcester on Friday. We’re going to go out and get the win.

“Saracens was always going to be tough and it was our fault for not being up to scratch on the day.

“We’ll never think of Worcester as the underdogs, they’re a great team and they’ve made some great additions to their squad.

“They’ll be competitive all season, they showed that beating the Saints at home, so we’ll have to be on our mettle this week and focus on ourselves.

“I think if we do our jobs right we should cause them some problems. We’re not going to dwell on the past, we’re going to go out to attack and really win that game.”

AJ Bell Stadium, 8pm

Referee: Luke Pearce (41st Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Greg Garner & Paul Burton. TMO: Trevor Fisher.

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