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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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Aviva Premiership Table
|Friday 5th September|
|19:45||Northampton vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 6th September|
|14:00||Sale vs Bath|
|14:00||Saracens vs Wasps|
|15:00||Leicester vs Newcastle|
|16:30||London Irish vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 7th September|
|14:00||London Welsh vs Exeter|
|Friday 12th September|
|19:45||Harlequins vs Saracens|
|Saturday 13th September|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Sale|
|15:00||Bath vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Exeter vs Leicester|
|Sunday 14th September|
|14:00||Wasps vs Northampton|
|15:00||Newcastle vs London Irish|
|Friday 19th September|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Exeter|
|Saturday 20th September|
|14:00||Sale vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Saracens|
|15:15||Bath vs Leicester|
|Sunday 21st September|
|14:00||Newcastle vs Northampton|
|Friday 26th September|
|19:45||London Welsh vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 27th September|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Sale|
|15:15||Northampton vs Bath|
|Sunday 28th September|
|14:00||Wasps vs Newcastle|
|14:00||Exeter vs Harlequins|
|Friday 3rd October|
|19:45||Bath vs Saracens|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com