Jim Mallinder says it’s very important Saints secure a Premiership play-off place before their final-day trip to Harlequins.
Northampton can guarantee a top-four spot with a bonus-point win over Sale on Saturday, while anything more than a seven-point defeat for Gloucester at home to Saracens would also be enough.
The odds look stacked in Saints’ favour, but they know they must get the job done before the May 4 game against the reigning Premiership champions at The Stoop.
And consequently Mallinder has urged his men to make sure they don’t miss their chance of victory at Franklin’s Gardens this weekend.
“It’s very important,” he said. “We have a weekend off after this and then go to Harlequins, so it’s in our hands and we don’t want to leave it until the final game of the season.
“What we’ve got to do is make sure we prepare properly and take the opportunity on Saturday.
“At home we’ve not been brilliant this season.
“In the past we’ve had a really good home record and I think our performances have not been good enough in various games. We’re aware of that and we’re determined to put it right at the weekend.”
Saints’ win at London Welsh last weekend ensured the Oxford-based outfit would be consigned to relegation, ensuring Sale are safe for another season in England’s top flight.
And Mallinder, a former Sale player and coach, admits he is pleased to see his former club avoid the drop.
“I’m disappointed for London Welsh because they’re a good side, but in terms of the overall game, we do need Premiership clubs in the north of England,” he said.
“We need one on that north west side, we need one around that Leeds area and we needs Newcastle as well.”