Northampton Saints’ Phil Dowson knows his side face an acid test of their top four credentials at Sixways this weekend, but the flanker insists his side are determined to prove their worth.
Saints have only won one of their last four Aviva Premiership contests and travel to take on a Worcester Warriors side that have won four of their last five at home.
But with the Warriors in a poor run of form that has seen them lose their last three fixtures in all competitions there has not been a better time this season to head to Sixways.
And Dowson, whose side lost ground on the top four with their home defeat to Gloucester last time out, admits it is time for he and his teammates to front up and deliver a result.
“Worcester are a very good side at home, they have shown that this season, and they possess a big pack and some experienced half-backs so we need to be prepared,” he said.
“The game will be crucial up front and we have been told the pitch is wet and is expected to get wetter by the weekend so it will be a battle.
“In Andy Goode they have a very good kicker who will punish us if we give away silly penalties like we did last weekend.
“Facing against old teammates like Neil [Best], James [Percival] and Jon [Clarke] always adds a bit to the game and they will have a point to prove but after the game we will have a good catch up.”
Worcester have not beaten Northampton since the Saints' most recent visit to Sixways on 30 September 2011, whilst Northampton's most recent victory at the stadium was when they beat Gloucester there, 30-24, in the final of the 2010 LV= Cup.
And Worcester’s Alex Grove knows the importance of a win here as his side start to look nervously over their shoulder at the chasing pack.
“A win would be massive for the camp and it would certainly alleviate a large amount of pressure,” he said.
“Our home form is good and if we can win our games here, we will be in a comfortable position come the end of the season.
“They wouldn’t have been expected to slip up against Gloucester especially on their own patch.
“They’ll have players back from international duty with the Six Nations break this weekend and they’ve got stars across their side. So we’ll have our work cut out.
“But we’ve put in decent performances in every home game this season and it could have easily been seven wins from seven if a few decisions went in our favour.”
Referee: Greg Garner (44th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Kevin Stuart, Paul Burton.