There can be few scarier sights than a hungry shark coming at you and that is what one of England’s form sides Northampton Saints will have to face in tomorrow’s Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final against Sale.
The Sharks are gaining late season momentum having won their last four on the bounce and go into the clash at the AJ Bell stadium full of confidence.
Sale managed to get the better of the Saints in a thrilling game 13 days ago, which coach Steve Diamond said has raised spirits among his players.
“The squad is bouncing, the mood is good. We have come a long way and we have a lot of momentum knocking around the club at the moment and hopefully we can show that with our enthusiasm,” Diamond told MM.
“We know we have strength in depth and everyone is chomping at the bit.
“We have said all along that the reason the side is doing so well is that support players who haven’t been selected back them up in training and a few of those lads will be given an opportunity on Thursday night.
“The side that plays on Thursday night is picked to go and win, and go onto reach the semi-final.”
In the previous meeting between the sides Sharks managed to capitalise on the tired legs of returning international players such as Welsh winger George North, England hooker Dylan Hartley and his teammate and centre Luther Burrell.
The stunning 19-6 win over the then Aviva Premiership leaders has set the benchmark for Sale’s end of season performances.
“I think the game plan last time out against Saints is something to build off and our defence was very good and our attack created four or five opportunities and took three of them, so we are aiming for the same thing,” said Diamond.
“We know they will be smarting after a few losses and we will have to be at our very best to beat Northampton.
“We are confident we will win if we stick to our game plan and we have the right attitude on Thursday night.”
Sharks impressive run has carried them into contention for a top four play-off place and Diamond will have a number of difficult decisions when naming his starting 15.
“We are touching distance for a home semi-final and are then really close to reaching a final. But we are also touching distance from the top four and winning at Bath has made us think about team selection.
“We need to consider battle weariness, but because we are running with not many injuries we can bring people in with equal substance.
Last time out Sharks pulled off an outstanding victory against Bath Rugby away at the Recreation Ground putting in one of their best defensive performances to date.
The visitors finished with the spoils after a closely contested match which Sharks won 9-6.
Main image courtesy of Premiership Rugby via YouTube, with thanks.