Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond determined to end season on a high
Last Updated: 08/02/13 7:20pm
Troubling and testing times for Steve Diamond
Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond has made a desperate plea for his players to end the season on a high.
Exeter visit Salford City Stadium on Friday night with both clubs looking to press claims at either end of the Aviva Premiership table.
Relegation is a growing threat for bottom-placed Sale and need to win to close the five-point gap on London Irish in 11th, while the Chiefs are hunting a play-off spot.
It's a grave scenario for Sale, but there is a hope following their progression
into the semi-finals of the LV=Cup where they will host Saracens on 10 March with the winners of the competition qualifying for the Heineken Cup.
"We are rock bottom of the Premiership and we have got to move up the table," Diamond said. "If we can reach the final of the LV=Cup and maybe finish 10th in the Premiership then suddenly the season won't look quite so bad.
"As a management team we targeted the Scarlets and Wasps LV= Cup games as potential wins. We've achieved that and now we have got to do the same for the next two matches starting against Exeter and then at London Welsh.
"Exeter will be a big challenge for us. They are a very good side and well coached."
Former England wing Mark Cueto returns in the number 11 jersey for Sale, while fly-half Nick Macleod features on the bench for the first time since December following his recovery from injury.
Exeter head coach Rob Baxter insists the Chiefs are entering a critical phase of the season with Sale followed by fixtures against Saracens, London Welsh and Harlequins.
"These are really important games now. We want to do well in this year's Premiership," Baxter said.
"We've been in the Heineken Cup this year and really enjoyed it, we'd like to
be there again and that's going to depend on how well we go in the Premiership now.
"Every game is going to be very important. It's exciting entering these four games and where you could potentially go. That's how I want to approach it.
"I don't want us to be fretting about where the season might go, I want us to be excited about how far we can fire ourselves."