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Aviva Premiership: Conor O'Shea says Sale clash is pivotal
We know that whoever wins when we go to Sale is in the fight for the top four. Whoever loses, isn't.
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Conor O'Shea identified Harlequins' April 11 showdown against Sale as the decisive fixture in their quest to finish in the top four of the Aviva Premiership.
A 23-9 victory over London Irish that saw Nick Evans, Sam Smith and Mike Brown score tries at Twickenham Stoop revived Quins' hopes of securing a place in the end-of-season play-offs.
Now six points adrift of fourth-placed Bath, O'Shea views the clash with Sale, who lie fifth, as pivotal.
"We know we have to win all four of our remaining games to be within a chance of finishing in the top four," director of rugby O'Shea said.
"We know that whoever wins when we go to Sale is in the fight for the top four. Whoever loses, isn't.
"It's going to be a real fight and I've always said it will be. We want to fight until the bitter end.
"Everybody plays each other and we have Leicester and Bath to come here.
"You have to keep going, take it day by day and not look too far ahead."
It took the vision of Danny Care to break Irish's stubborn resistance with the England scrum-half floating a 70th-minute pass to Smith for the wing to score.
"The standards we set ourselves are better than that," O'Shea said.
"We're never arrogant enough to take any Premiership win for granted, so we should be happy with the win, but our ambition and standards are higher.
"The breakdown was frustrating beyond comprehension throughout the game. We'll take the win, but we know there's more in this team."
Irish looking ahead
Irish have little left to play for with Worcester destined for relegation and director of rugby Brian Smith admitted preparations have already begun for next season.
"We're in limbo now. We're looking up at the table thinking we can maybe catch the next team above us," Smith said.
"We can't do much more than that because there are only four fixtures left, so we're looking at the future.
"Obviously we want to win our home games and be competitive. Of course we want to win, but we also have one eye on next season.
"Giving game time to the younger blokes is part of the long-term plan."
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|Friday 24th April|
|19:45||Bath vs London Irish|
|Saturday 25th April|
|14:00||Sale Sharks vs Harlequins|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Newcastle Falcons|
|15:00||Leicester Tigers vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Northampton vs Saracens|
|Sunday 26th April|
|14:00||Wasps vs Exeter|
|Friday 8th May|
|19:45||Harlequins vs Bath|
|Saturday 9th May|
|14:00||Sale vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Northampton vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Gloucester vs London Irish|
|15:15||Wasps vs Leicester Tigers|
|Sunday 10th May|
|14:00||Saracens vs Exeter|
|Saturday 16th May|
|15:30||Exeter vs Sale|
|15:30||Leicester vs Northampton|
|15:30||Bath vs Gloucester|
|15:30||Newcastle vs Harlequins|
|15:30||London Irish vs Wasps|
|15:30||London Welsh vs Saracens|
|Sunday 12th April|
|London Irish 25 - 23 Sale Sharks|
|London Welsh 13 - 40 Wasps|
|Exeter 21 - 10 Northampton|
|Saturday 11th April|
|Saracens 22 - 6 Leicester Tigers|
|Harlequins 29 - 26 Gloucester|
|Friday 10th April|
|Newcastle Falcons 19 - 29 Bath|
|Sunday 29th March|
|London Welsh 14 - 29 Bath|
|Sale Sharks 23 - 6 Gloucester|
|Saturday 28th March|
|Saracens 42 - 14 Harlequins|
|London Irish 22 - 21 Newcastle Falcons|
|Leicester Tigers 25 - 18 Exeter|
|Friday 27th March|
|Northampton 52 - 30 Wasps|
|Sunday 8th March|
|Newcastle Falcons 12 - 16 Leicester Tigers|
|Wasps 17 - 26 Saracens|
|Saturday 7th March|
|Gloucester 33 - 33 Northampton|
|Exeter 74 - 19 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 26 - 20 London Irish|
|Friday 6th March|
|Bath 12 - 3 Sale Sharks|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com