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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 6th March|
|19:45||Bath vs Sale Sharks|
|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 Falcons vs Leicester Tigers|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:45||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Saturday 28th March|
|15:00||London Irish vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Leicester vs Exeter|
|15:15||Saracens vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 29th March|
|14:00||Sale vs Gloucester|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Bath|
|Friday 10th April|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Bath|
|Saturday 11th April|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Gloucester|
|15:15||Saracens vs Leicester|
|Sunday 12th April|
|14:00||Exeter vs Northampton|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Sale|
|Saturday 25th April|
|14:00||Sale vs Harlequins|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Bath vs London Irish|
|15:00||Northampton vs Saracens|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Welsh|
|Sunday 26th April|
|14:00||Wasps vs Exeter|
|Saturday 9th May|
|14:00||Sale vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 1st March|
|Wasps 32 - 21 Gloucester|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Exeter 16 - 6 Bath|
|Saracens 22 - 17 Newcastle Falcons|
|Leicester Tigers 28 - 8 Sale Sharks|
|London Welsh 12 - 50 London Irish|
|Friday 27th February|
|Northampton 17 - 13 Harlequins|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|London Irish 6 - 12 Leicester Tigers|
|Saturday 21st February|
|Bath 13 - 21 Northampton|
|Harlequins 21 - 32 Exeter|
|Gloucester 48 - 10 London Welsh|
|Sale Sharks 14 - 10 Saracens|
|Friday 20th February|
|Newcastle 23 - 23 Wasps|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Wasps 37 - 6 Harlequins|
|London Welsh 12 - 52 Sale|
|Saracens 34 - 24 Bath|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Exeter 46 - 17 Newcastle|
|Friday 13th February|
|Leicester 18 - 15 Gloucester|
|Northampton 15 - 9 London Irish|
|Sunday 11th January|
|London Irish 28 - 26 Exeter|
|Newcastle 38 - 7 London Welsh|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com