Wing Mark Cueto admits it is easy for Sale Sharks to get bogged down with the negatives of their start to the Premiership season, but he insists only a positive frame of mind will bring a change of fortune.
The Sharks are currently in the middle of their worst start to a league season for 25 years having suffered five defeats in five and claimed just the solitary losing bonus point.
And it could get worse before it gets better with Sale set to welcome nine-time Premiership champions Leicester Tigers to their new Salford City Stadium home on Friday.
Cueto for one has seen almost everything in over a decade with the club – from the European Challenge Cup wins of 2002 and 2005 along with the Premiership victory in 2006 right the way through to narrowly avoiding relegation in 2010.
And, while he believes they have let supporters down with their start to the season, Cueto has called for encouragement rather than discord as Sale bid to get up and running.
“We feel like we’ve let everyone down. It’s up to us to get the club out of a hole and there’s no bigger challenge than facing Leicester to try and find your first win,” said Cueto.
“The pressure is off us to a degree – obviously there’s always pressure when you’re five from five defeats – but we’re looking forward to getting that first win and to get a scalp like Leicester would be great.
“It’s the sort of fixture that if you win, your season can completely change direction. That one win will get us rolling. Watching the games, there’s a lot of positive things to pluck.
“It’s not like we’re the bottom of the pile and we’ve no clue how to fix it or there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, there are a lot of positives.
“But when you’re in the position we’re in, then it’s difficult not to look at the negatives and get bogged down by that.
“We’re trying to be positive – let’s get that one win and it will completely turn the whole perspective around.”
We look at all the Round Six action!
Friday, October 5:
Sale Sharks v Leicester Tigers
(Salford City Stadium – 20.00; 19.00 GMT)
Sale Sharks still anxiously await their first victory of the new Premiership season and have now lost their last six Premiership encounters.
The Sharks have been defeated in their opening two games at their new home – Salford City Stadium.
Leicester Tigers got back to winning ways with Saturday’s 30-8 defeat of Exeter Chiefs at Welford Road.
The Tigers have lost just once away from home in the Premiership in the last twelve months: 11-19 at Exeter on 11 February.
Leicester have taken the last five encounters with the Sharks.
Sale Sharks: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Will Addison, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Cillian Willis, 8 Andy Powell, 7 David Seymour (captain), 6 Richie Vernon, 5 Fraser McKenzie, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Joe Ward, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 James Gaskell, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Mark Jennings.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Niall Morris, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Richard Thorpe, 6 Jordan Crane (captain), 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Logovi’i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Rob Andrew, 20 Brett Deacon, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Matt Smith.
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Stuart Terheege, Alan Hughes
TMO: Trevor Fisher
Saturday, October 6:
Gloucester v Bath
(Kingsholm – 14.15; 13.15 GMT)
Gloucester are unbeaten in their last four Premiership matches since their opening day defeat at home to table topping Northampton.
Gloucester ended a four game losing streak at Kingsholm with their 29-22 victory over Wasps in round four.
Bath recorded a 31-10 win over Sale on Friday to end a run of two successive defeats. Bath’s solo win in their last five away trips was 24-23 at Worcester on 1 September.
Bath have been victorious just once in their last nine clashes with the Cherry & Whites: 24-8 at The Rec on 27 December 2009.
Bath have not beaten Gloucester at Kingsholm since 25 February 2006.
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Shane Monahan, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Jim Hamilton (captain), 4 Tom Savage, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Huia Edmonds, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Koree Britton, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Will James, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Jimmy Cowan, 22 Mike Tindall, 23 Martyn Thomas.
Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Kyle Eastmond, 13 Dan Hipkiss, 12 Sam Vesty, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Ben Skirving, 6 Carl Fearns, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Dominic Day, 3 Davey Wilson, 2 Lee Mears (captain), 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Will Skuse, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Ollie Devoto, 23 Jack Cuthbert.
Referee: Dave Pearson
Assistant Referees: Robin Goodliffe, Andrew Pearce
TMO: David Grashoff
Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins
(Sandy Park – 15.00; 14.00 GMT)
Exeter Chiefs’ only win in their last four Premiership fixtures was 14-12 at home to Saracens a fortnight ago, whilst the Chiefs only defeat at Sandy Park since February was 15-18 to Northampton on 22 April.
Harlequins seven game winning run in the Premiership came to a halt at home to Saracens on Sunday.
Quins are unbeaten in their last five away games in the tournament.
The Chiefs only win so far over Harlequins in the Premiership came at Sandy Park on 12 February 2011.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Ian Whitten, 13 Phil Dollman, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter (captain), 7 Ben White, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 James Hanks, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Carl Rimmer, 2 Simon Alcott, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Neil Clark, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Chris Budgen, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Dave Ewers, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Ignacio Mieres, 23 Sireli Naqelevuki.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Seb Stegmann, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain) 6 Tom Guest, 5 George Robson, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Maurie Fa’asavalu, 21 Danny Care, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Ollie Lindsay-Hague.
Referee: Martin Fox
Assistant Referees: Peter Huckle, Gareth Copsey
London Irish v Northampton Saints
(Madejski Stadium – 15.00; 14.00 GMT)
London Irish’s shaky start to the new Premiership campaign continued on Friday with their 11-35 reversal at Worcester Warriors.
The Exiles have won two of their last three games at Madejski Stadium.
Northampton Saints are the only side in the Premiership with their 100% winning record intact after five rounds.
The Saints have won their last four regular season away games in the competition.
The last three encounters between the two teams have all been won by the away side on the day, whilst Northampton have won on their last three visits to Madejski Stadium.
London Irish: 15 Steven Shingler, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Sailosi Tagicakibau; 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Ian Humphreys 9 Tomás O’Leary, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Bryn Evans (captain), 4 George Skivington 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 Shaun Malton, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Alan Cotter, 19 Kieran Low, 20 Chris Hala’ufia, 21 Guy Armitage, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Jack Moates. 15
Northampton Saints: 15 James Wilson, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Dom Waldouck, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Vasily Artemyev, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Phil Dowson (captain), 7 Tom Wood, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Soane Tonga’uiha.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 Teimana Harrison, 20 Rhys Oakley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Tom May.
Referee: Mathieu Raynal
Assistant Referees: Kevin Stewart, Andrew Watson
Sunday, October 7:
London Welsh v Saracens
(Kassam Stadium – 14.15; 13.15 GMT)
London Welsh’s two game winning run narrowly came to an end at home to Gloucester on Sunday with their 25-31 defeat, the visitors gaining the decisive score with just six minutes left.
Saracens handed defending Premiership champions, Harlequins, their first defeat of the new campaign at The Stoop on Sunday, but have now for the first time in their Premiership history gone three whole games without scoring a try.
The two clubs have not met in a competitive match since a Division Two encounter at Bramley Road on 22 October 1988, which Saracens won 37-4.
London Welsh: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Phil MacKenzie, 13 James Lewis, 12 Hudson Tonga’uiha, 11 Nick Scott, 10 Gavin Henson, 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Ed Jackson, 7 Mike Denbee, 6 Daniel Browne, 5 Matt Corker, 4 Jonathan Mills (captain), 3 Paulica Ion, 2 Dan George, 1 Frank Montanella.
Replacements: 16 Greg Bateman, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Arthur Joly, 19 Kirill Kulemin, Alfie To’oala, 21 Nick Runciman, 22 Ryan Davis, 23 Seb Jewell.
Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 David Strettle, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 James Short, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Will Fraser, 5 George Kruis, 4 Steve Borthwick (captain), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 John Smit, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Carlos Nieto, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Nick Fenton-Wells, 21 Neil De Kock, 22 Kameli Ratuvou, 23 Duncan Taylor.
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix, Nigel Carrick
TMO: Graham Hughes
London Wasps v Worcester Warriors
(Adams Park – 15.00; 14.00 GMT)
London Wasps’ single victory in their last nine matches in all competitions remains the 43-14 win over London Irish at Adams Park in round three of Premiership.
Worcester Warriors opened their winning account this season with their 35-11 win over London Irish at Sixways on Friday. The Warriors have slipped to nine successive away defeats in all competitions since the last time they visited Adams Park on New Year’s Day and won 6-0.
Both encounters between the clubs in the Premiership last season ended in wins for the away side, whilst the Warriors have been victorious in two of their last three visits to Adams Park.
London Wasps: 15 Hugo Southwell (captain), 14 Tom Varndell, 13 Andrea Masi, 12 Chris Bell, 11 Christian Wade, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 James Haskell, 6 Joe Launchbury, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Zak Taulafo, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 Simon McIntyre.
Replacements: 16 T Rhys Thomas, 17 Phil Swainston, 18 Fabio Staibano, 19 Jonathan Poff, 20 Ashley Johnson, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Nick Robinson, 23 Elliot Daly.
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Jon Clarke, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 David Lemi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Matt Kvesic, 7 Sam Betty, 6 Chris Jones, 5 Dean Schofield (captain), 4 James Percival, 3 John Andress, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ollie Hayes, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 James Currie, 19 Craig Gillies, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Ravai Fatiaki.
Referee: Llyr Apgeraint-Roberts
Assistant Referees: Roy Maybank, Paul Burton
Would have gone with Leicester for the win against Sale, but as we didn’t manage to get that up in time can’t really put that one down as a prediction.
As far as the rest of the weekends games go we expect the following teams to win: Gloucester, Harlequins, Northampton, Saracens and Worcester Warriors.
Table after five rounds