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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 13th February|
|19:45||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|19:45||Northampton vs London Irish|
|Saturday 14th February|
|16:30||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 15th February|
|13:00||Saracens vs Bath|
|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Sale|
|Friday 20th February|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Wasps|
|Saturday 21st February|
|14:00||Sale vs Saracens|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Exeter|
|15:00||Gloucester vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Bath vs Northampton|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|14:00||London Irish vs Leicester|
|Friday 27th February|
|19:45||Leicester vs Sale|
|19:45||Northampton vs Harlequins|
|Saturday 28th February|
|14:30||London Welsh vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Newcastle|
|15:15||Exeter vs Bath|
|Sunday 1st March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Gloucester|
|Friday 6th March|
|19:45||Bath vs Sale|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:00||Exeter vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Irish|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Northampton|
|Sunday 8th March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Saracens|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Leicester|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:45||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Sunday 11th January|
|London Irish 28 - 26 Exeter|
|Newcastle 38 - 7 London Welsh|
|Saturday 10th January|
|Harlequins 32 - 12 Leicester|
|Bath 39 - 26 Wasps|
|Sale Sharks 20 - 7 Northampton|
|Friday 9th January|
|Gloucester 24 - 23 Saracens|
|Sunday 4th January|
|London Welsh 13 - 24 Harlequins|
|Wasps 41 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Leicester 17 - 8 Bath|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|Exeter 25 - 26 Gloucester|
|Saracens 22 - 6 London Irish|
|Friday 2nd January|
|Northampton 39 - 31 Newcastle|
|Sunday 28th December|
|Gloucester 23 - 30 Wasps|
|Saturday 27th December|
|Harlequins 25 - 30 Northampton|
|Newcastle 23 - 25 Saracens|
|Bath 31 - 14 Exeter|
|Sale Sharks 30 - 32 Leicester|
|Friday 26th December|
|London Irish 24 - 9 London Welsh|
|Sunday 21st December|
|Wasps 48 - 16 London Irish|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Gloucester 16 - 39 Bath|
|Northampton 23 - 19 Leicester|
|Saracens 78 - 7 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 15 - 7 Newcastle|
|Friday 19th December|
|Sale 18 - 11 Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com