Gloucester’s Shaun Knight: Season over if we don't beat London Welsh
BEAT London Welsh or the play-off dream is over, admits Shaun Knight.
Tighthead prop Knight believes Gloucester could well need five wins from their five remaining matches to secure a Premiership semi-final.
And he has conceded that nothing other than victory over basement club Welsh this weekend will sustain their top-four hopes.
The stark reality of a flawless run-in might seem daunting – but the Matson-born 23-year-old is confident the Cherry and Whites have what it takes to pull off a top-four coup.
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Gloucester host embattled London Welsh at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick-off 3pm), the first of three remaining home league clashes.
Reigning champions Harlequins visit on Friday, March 29, before former league winners Saracens pitch up on Saturday, April 20.
Nigel Davies' men face an away trip to Sale Sharks on Friday, April 12 – before completing their regular-season programme at Exeter Chiefs on Saturday, May 4.
Knight is hoping to overcome a knee tendon problem that has sidelined him since January, in time for Saturday's clash.
And the England Under-20s graduate admits Gloucester have no more margin for error.
Knight explained: "It's simple: if we don't win we'll go out of the top-four race.
"We've got to win, and we've got to look at winning every game now.
"On paper Quins at home will be even harder than London Welsh.
"But we nearly beat Quins down there and we've got to be confident on our own patch.
"We'll respect all our opponents, but we're at home and we're fifth in the league for a reason."
Inconsistent home form has started to dog rugby director Davies' men.
After a demoralising 18-12 Kingsholm defeat to London Irish on January 5 the Cherry and Whites were hit with their heaviest professional-era home loss to rivals Bath, 32-5 in the LV=Cup.
Davies' men edged over the line 29-23 against Worcester Warriors on Friday, February 22.
And that tetchy victory came after boss Davies had switched training to Kingsholm, to help his players become more at ease at their home ground.
Passionate Gloucester boy Knight would never feel ill at ease at Kingsholm, and admits he has been keen to see the whole squad embrace the plus side of the fervent home atmosphere.
He continued: "We've had a couple of blips at Kingsholm this season, so I could see why that could be said.
"But for me personally it's a great place to play and we've got to get rid of any nerves playing in front of our great set of fans.
"We've got to do our thing, get into our game, do what we're coached to, and we should be okay.
"When you've got that great crowd behind you there's no reason to be nervous.
"That crowd's not going to turn against you if they see you are fighting your hardest and giving it your all.
"If we give them that then they will give us huge backing, and it definitely makes a difference."