Saints not fazed by size of challenge at Sale

Saints would love to ease their way back into Premiership action after a sobering couple of weeks in the Champions Cup, but that certainly won't be the case this Saturday.

Friday, 20th December 2019, 7:00 am
Matt Ferguson

Because Chris Boyd's men, who lost 43-16 and 50-21 to Leinster in their past two matches, must make one of the toughest trips in England's top tier this weekend.

Saints go to the AJ Bell Stadium, where they have won just two of their seven Premiership meetings with Sale Sharks.

Steve Diamond's men are notoriously tough to beat on home turf and, with the Sharks boasting one of their best squads in many years, that task will be even more difficult now.

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But it is not something Saints, who currently sit top of the Gallagher Premiership table, are allowing themselves to be fazed by.

"We've actually spoken about it as a coaching group and it's not just a tough place for Saints, it's a tough place for a lot of teams," said Saints assistant coach Matt Ferguson.

"Why is that? Well, we came to the conclusion that it's a bit of a myth and a self-fulfilling prophecy really.

"Franklin's Gardens is an unbelievable place for us to play but if we don't put our game on the pitch here it's not such a good place to play.

"So what difference is it to getting on a plane to Dublin or getting on a bus to Manchester? It's about what we do when we turn up there.

"What we're more concerned about at the moment is making sure we check and we cover off the threats Sale are going to bring, but, more importantly, that we capitalise on the opportunities they're going to present us with.

"If we take those opportunities, it will just be another pitch."

Saints now have a block of three Premiership matches - games against Gloucester and Wasps follow the trip to Sale - before returning to Champions Cup action in January.

And Ferguson said: "It's massively exciting to get back to the Premiership.

"It's an away fixture, we're top of the league and we're playing against a really combative Sale team who have probably underachieved a little bit so far this season.

"When they get things right, they certainly have a bit of that physicality we witnessed during the past two weeks as well.

"So what a great way to sharpen the Christmas mind going back to the Premiership.

"We're hugely excited about it."