Sale Sharks’ Nick Macleod is adamant there will be no inch given in his side’s blockbuster Aviva Premiership encounter with Gloucester at Kingsholm.
The Sharks have won their last two matches at Salford City Stadium, and victory against Gloucester in their penultimate home tie would be a huge step towards survival.
The Cardiff-born back is targeting wins from Sale’s three remaining league fixtures – eager to get as far away as possible from basement boys London Welsh.
“We’re obviously fighting to stay out of that relegation battle and they’re going for top four so it’s a huge confrontational battle again,” he said.
“A win would take us a lot closer to being safe – it’s in our hands, which is a good position to be in, we don’t want to be reliant on anybody else.
“But we’re in the same situation – we’re targeting this game as a must-win to try and take us even further away from Welsh.
“If we go and get three wins we know we’ll be safe and we’re certainly doing everything we can to do that, to try and finish the season on a high.”
Sale opened up an eight-point gap above Welsh through their 33-33 draw with London Irish last weekend, with Macleod’s last-ditch penalty earning a share of the spoils.
But the 30-year-old outside-half insisted the players will face the wrath of director of rugby Steve Diamond unless their defence improves against Gloucester.
“We’ve had a few stern words off Dimes – he told us in no uncertain terms that the defence wasn’t up to scratch and we’ve placed a big emphasis on that this week,” he said.
“The first few days of this week were heavily defence based, and Gloucester have got huge attacking threats all over the pitch but especially in their back three so we need to marshal them.
“Attack was a big positive for us and I think if we can tighten up our defence then we’ll take a huge stride forward I think.
“We think we did everything right in that game apart from some one-on-one missed tackles and they cost us dearly.”
Sale are unbeaten in their last two Aviva Premiership encounters, but have not managed three consecutive undefeated matches since September 2011.
Macleod is determined not to let Gloucester secure their first league double over Sale since 2002, and to reward the Sale faithful with a strong finish to the season.
“We need to make sure we stay out of that bottom place and give the supporters – who have been great to us throughout the season – something to cheer about and finish the season on a positive,” he said.
“We managed to go down there last season and win, we know we’ve got a good record against Gloucester at home and we’re riding high on a bit of confidence from the run since Christmas.”
The Sharks make one change from the squad that earned three points at London Irish, with Will Addison replacing Charlie Amesbury on the right wing.
Line-Up: Cameron Shepherd; Will Addison, Johnny Leota, Sam Tuitupou, Mark Cueto; Nick Macleod, Dwayne Peel; Alasdair Dickinson, Marc Jones, Henry Thomas, Kearnan Myall, Andrei Ostrikov, Dan Braid, David Seymour (capt), James Gaskell
Replacements: Tommy Taylor, Ross Harrison, Tony Buckley, Tom Holmes, Richie Vernon, Nathan Fowles, Danny Cipriani, Tom Brady
Image courtesy of Sale Sharks, via YouTube, with thanks