Sale Sharks’ Tommy Taylor believes his side thrive off pressure as they aim to take a step towards survival with victory over Bath tonight at Salford City Stadium.
The Sharks return to Aviva Premiership duties after their 32-14 LV Cup final defeat to Harlequins and face an in-form Bath side chasing a semi-final spot.
But Macclesfield-born Taylor believes home advantage will be crucial if they are to create further daylight between themselves and basement boys London Welsh.
“There is a lot of pressure on the Bath game, but we thrive under pressure,” said Taylor.
“We proved that against Exeter and Welsh in the Premiership games, so hopefully we can get a win and put some more points between us and London Welsh.
“We’re at home, where we are difficult to beat, and we’ve been really good there this season.
“We’ve just got to take the confidence from the game on Sunday – even though we lost and it wasn’t the greatest score-line – we can still take confidence from it.”
Sale have five games remaining, and their Premiership future hangs in the balance with just two points separating them with London Welsh – victims of a points deduction.
However 21-year-old hooker Taylor insisted morale is high at Barton, and the Sharks are determined to stay up on merit alone.
“The mood is great in the camp at the moment,” said Taylor.
“I think the boys are looking forward to getting back into the Premiership really because they enjoy the challenge.
“We want to stay up on merit, regardless of the London Welsh situation and we want to win most of our games in the run-in.
“We all know what job we’ve got on our hands, and we’ve all got our golden targets to get to so I think we’ll all pull together to try and achieve them.”
The Sharks announced that Taylor’s fellow front-row Marc Jones has signed a new deal with the club, having played 13 times for Sale this season.
The 25-year-old follows Rob Miller, Dan Braid, Dave Seymour and Will Cliff in committing his future to Sale, and expressed his delight at signing up.
“Obviously it hasn't been the best season for me so far as it has been plagued by injury and we've been fighting a relegation battle so it’s not been the easiest of times,” said Jones.
“But going forward I do see Sale bouncing back from where we are at the moment.
“I'm pleased with the players that we have in the squad and I trust everyone around me so I was more than happy to commit to the club.
“One of the main reasons I decided to stay was that in the likes of Rob Miller, James Gaskell, Henry Thomas and Tommy Taylor – young players we can build a team around and get ourselves in a better position.”
Director of rugby Steve Diamond championed the qualities of the Welshman, who has been played 88 times for the Sharks since joining in 2005.
“Marc's everything that we're about,” said Diamond. “He's combative, abrasive and he would run through a brick wall for the club.
“Though Marc's been at the club for a few years now he's still only 25 and his best years are still ahead of him.”
Sale have also announced that 25-year-old Tom Arscott will join at the end of the current season from London Welsh.
Arscott has played 23 times for the Exiles this campaign, scoring four tries, and Sale boss Diamond is delighted to have secured his signature.
“Tom is an exciting player who can play both full-back and wing,” said Diamond.
“He played in both the games against us this season and I was very impressed with him and I am sure he will be a great asset to us.”
Line-up: Cameron Shephard; Charlie Amesbury, Jonny Leota, Sammy Tuitupou, Mark Cueto; Nick Macleod, Dwayne Peel; Alasdair Dickinson, Marc Jones, Henry Thomas, James Gaskell, Andrei Ostrikov, Dan Braid, David Seymour (captain), Andy Powell
Replacements: Tommy Taylor, Ross Harrison, Tony Buckley, Fraser McKenzie, Kearnan Myall, Nathan Fowles, Danny Cipriani, Richie Vernon
Picture courtesy of Sale Sharks Rugby Club, via YouTube, with thanks.