Saints prop Mercey expecting a tough test at Sale Sharks

RALLYING CALL - Saints prop Tom Mercey (Picture: Linda Dawson)

RALLYING CALL - Saints prop Tom Mercey (Picture: Linda Dawson)

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Tom Mercey says Saints will treat Sale with the respect they deserve when the two sides square up at the AJ Bell Stadium this afternoon (kick-off 2pm).

Mercey and Co head north on the back off 11 successive wins in the Aviva Premiership.

But Sale will be a tough nut to crack, as they currently sit sixth in the standings, harbouring hopes of a top-four finish.

Saints won the previous meeting between the sides 33-14 at Franklin’s Gardens in September, but loosehead prop Mercey, who starts the game from the replacements bench, is expecting a much tighter affair this weekend.

He said: “I’m really looking forward to it. They gave us a tough game when we played them here and we’re definitely not underestimating them.

“They’ve got good driving play, a good set piece and they’re going to have threats all over the place so we’re treating it with the respect it needs to be treated with.

“You look across the Premiership now and the margins are so small in every area that the idea you’re going to score two tries in the first half against a side, you’re kidding yourself.

“If you’re going to break a team it’s going to happen in the second half and late on.

“You just need patience, be disciplined and ultimately you hope the result goes your way, but the minute you lose that discipline and focus you slip up and someone comes and beats you.”

Saints saw their 13-match winning streak in all competitions come to an end in a 15-8 LV= Cup final defeat to Exeter at Sandy Park last weekend.

And while Mercey admits missing out on the trophy was frustrating, he says the Premiership title bid has to be top of the priority list.

“Any silverware at any stage of your career is massive,” he said. “There really aren’t that many cups you can pick up.

“You’ve got to try to take every opportunity but if you look at the season as a whole you’ve got to put the Premiership up there as one of the top competitions.

“It’s a tricky one because by no means would we devalue the LV= Cup, it’s a fantastic competition, which gives the likes of myself and others a chance to go out there and get some game time.”