Rugby - Ryan has confidence in Worcester

Dean Ryan is adamant that Worcester "have what it takes" to get themselves out of grave Aviva Premiership relegation danger.

The Warriors visit 11th-placed London Irish on Saturday, finding themselves 10 points adrift of the Exiles and without a league win since March.

The league season has reached its halfway point, with Worcester having become only the third club in Premiership history not to have claimed a victory by that stage.

But Worcester rugby director Ryan said: "We have what it takes to get us out of this position.

"For a side that hasn't got a win on the board, we couldn't be in better shape or better spirits. We've learnt how to deal with things instead of thinking it is the end of the world.

"In the last five or six games we have been consistently competitive against significant opposition.

"We have improved dramatically defensively. We've improved our cohesion and we understand what we're trying to do collectively. We weren't any of those things at the beginning.

"We are in a fight until the end of the season, and we are all focused on doing our jobs."

At the table's opposite end, Northampton will aim to continue their relentless push towards securing a home tie in the Premiership play-offs when they host Harlequins on Friday night.

Victory over fourth-placed Quins at Franklin's Gardens would take Saints top of the Premiership above current leaders Saracens, who visit Gloucester on Saturday.

It would also put Northampton a minimum 13 points above third-placed Bath just over halfway through the league campaign.

The top two regular season finishers after 22 games will have home advantage in the May play-offs, and Saints are well on course, having dropped just four points from a possible 30 in their last six games.

"We know what Quins can do to teams if you let them play," Northampton wing Jamie Elliott said.

"So for us the goal is, first and foremost, on Friday to stamp our authority on the game, to make an impression and not let them play.

"If we can do that then we will be in good shape. We know what a good chance this is to stretch the gap away from the other teams. That has to be our goal."

Newcastle host Sale Sharks in Friday's other game, with much-improved Sale seeking a win that would lift them into the Premiership's top six.

And Sunday's league action sees Bath making the trip to Leicester, while Wasps tackle Exeter at Adams Park.