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Sale eye quarter-final spot


Mark Cueto signed a new deal with Sale Sharks this week.

Mark Cueto signed a new deal with Sale Sharks this week.

Mark Cueto signed a new deal with Sale Sharks this week.

Sale Sharks will aim to join fellow Aviva Premiership clubs Bath and Wasps in this season's Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals when they tackle Biarritz on Saturday night.

Sale head to France as Pool One leaders, with a losing bonus point possibly proving sufficient in their quest for last-eight status.

The Sharks beat Biarritz 33-10 earlier this season, and their group is the only one of five still to be decided, as Bath, Wasps, Brive and Stade Francais are already through.

Three teams finishing as runners-up in Heineken Cup groups will then complete the Amlin quarter-final picture.

And Sale have been buoyed for the Biarritz appointment by wings Mark Cueto and Tom Brady agreeing new contracts.

Former England wing Cueto, 34, has signed a one-year deal, while 22-year-old Brady has committed for another two seasons. Both players start this weekend.

"I am delighted both Mark and Tom have agreed new deals," Sale rugby director Steve Diamond said.

"Mark can play centre, wing or full-back and he is enjoying a new lease of life with the club. He continues to score tries and is a player the younger lads look up to and go to for advice.

"Tom is a local lad and playing the best rugby of his career now, and I am sure he will represent the club for many years to come."

Stade Francais' bonus point victory over Lusitanos on Thursday ended London Irish's Pool Five chances ahead of them facing Cavalieri Prato in Italy, while Worcester will target a morale-boosting victory against Pool One visitors Oyonnax.

The Warriors, red-hot favourites for relegation from the Premiership, have claimed a solitary success all season, away from home against LV= Cup opponents Cardiff Blues.

Worcester drew 9-9 away to Oyonnax three months ago, and Warriors rugby director Dean Ryan said: "When we played over there we were lacking confidence and we couldn't see the game out.

"It will be interesting to see what has changed since, because in terms of having confidence we have made a considerable leap. Hopefully, we will see that this weekend.

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"They (Oyonnax) have beaten almost everyone at home, although they don't travel well, but we haven't performed as well as we would have liked to either.

"We will be looking for a good performance this weekend, and members of the team will want to keep putting markers down so they will be considered for Premiership selection."

Ryan will take his players to Portugal next week for a training camp, and he added: "We haven't been on a grass pitch for two-and-a-half weeks because of the effects of the weather.

"In Portugal we will have guaranteed surfaces which can't be provided in the conditions we have here at the moment.

"The training camp is about aiding performance, getting better and getting this group in the best condition they can be.

"Hopefully, we will come back confident and feeling that we have the best chance of having a crack at what lies ahead for the rest of the season."

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