We're in the fight of our lives - Leicester Tigers' Rob Hawkins on Sale clash
Leicester Tigers are in for the fight of their lives when they welcome Sale Sharks to Welford Road this afternoon, says hooker Rob Hawkins.
Tigers have slipped to third place in the Aviva Premiership following back-to-back defeats to top-two sides Harlequins and Saracens.
This has left Richard Cockerill's men five points off the home semi-final places yet just three points ahead of the chasing pack outside the top four.
At the other end, Tigers' opponents Sale currently sit rooted to the bottom of the Premiership table three points off safety and facing relegation into the Championship.
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But Hawkins doesn't believe this will make Saturday's clash a walk in the park and said today's opponent's predicament will make the prospect even harder.
"They are going to be fighting for their lives," said Hawkins.
"We are fighting for ours to try to get into the top two and they are fighting for their lives to stay in the league.
"They are going to be as desperate as it gets – they are a side that are fighting relegation.
"Every game is tough in this league, but when you are against a team that is scrapping for its life it is going to be as tough as it gets.
"We will analyse their stuff and what they do, but we know that if we play to the best of our ability we should do pretty well.
"We are focusing on ourselves and on trying to break them down and, hopefully, get a decent result."
With just six games left of the regular season, Hawkins said that, if Tigers want to make a charge at the top two, every game is crucial.
"Every game from now on in is must-win," said the 29-year-old. "We have dropped out of the top two and that is where we want to be, so every game is of vital importance from here on in.
"But we are not getting ahead of ourselves, today is the most important game and we will be going all out to get the result.
"We would love to be in the top two, that's the perfect scenario. We are not going to kid ourselves, we have got to concentrate on winning this game."
Tigers will host 2012 Heineken Cup finalists Ulster at Welford Road this summer.
The teams met last summer in Belfast and Tigers will host the return fixture on Saturday, August 31, (3.0) as their final warm-up game before the start of the 2013-14 Premiership.
Ulster are top of the Pro12 table and have lost just three league fixtures this season.
Admission to the pre-season fixture is included in all Tigers season tickets for 2013-14.
Further fixtures for the pre-season programme will be confirmed in due course.