Katy Daley-McLean wants Sale Sharks to use their shock Round 17 victory over high-flying Exeter Chiefs as a blueprint for hauling themselves up the table in their second ever season.
Sale toppled fifth-place Chiefs 17-10 in their penultimate Allianz Premier 15s encounter as tries from Lisa Neumann and Hollie Bawden fired them to an unexpected victory.
Red Roses legend Daley-McLean, 35, racked up seven points from the tee in that clash before Darren Lamon's strugglers went down to a 26-12 defeat against Loughborough Lightning in the final game.
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Sale were competing in their maiden season as a professional outfit and finished the campaign ninth with just 19 points.
Daley-McLean believes the triumph over Exeter was a major step forward and wants her team to take that momentum with them heading into the summer.
"It was a massive win for us against Exeter, a team who have been the in-form club side in the Allianz Premier 15s," said the No.10, who made 116 England appearances and led her side to World Cup glory in 2014.
"It's been a tough season, but that win was absolutely huge for us to beat a side like Exeter. They're sitting fifth and we stopped their play-off opportunity.
"For us, it's been a bit of an up and down season but I think Covid has done that to a lot of teams.
"For us, we're very grateful we're able to continue. I think we've done well for our first season - there are a couple of games where we'd have liked the results to go the other way, but that win was just huge to show the potential of the squad.
"We've been close in games and when we turn up and really do stick to our plan, we can cause the best sides real problems."
Sale finished 14 points clear of rock-bottom DMP Sharks and struggled for consistency in their first ever year.
Lamon's side notched just four victories from their 18 Allianz Premier 15s fixtures as established sides such as Saracens, Harlequins, Wasps, Loughborough - and Exeter - set the pace.
Sale suffered a final day defeat at fourth-place Loughborough Lightning as the Midlands side booked a semi-final clash against Saracens
And one player Daley-McLean came up against was England ace Emily Scarratt, who recently helped steer the Red Roses to their third Women's Six Nations title on the spin against France.
Centre Scarratt, 31, was named World Rugby Women's Player of the Year in 2019 and has racked up over 600 points from the international tee since 2008 as England's designated kicker.
Daley-McLean hailed her former team-mate as the greatest player on the planet after 11 points from Scarratt - one try, three conversions - scuppered their hopes at the University Stadium.
"Emily is the world's best player - and we all know the reasons why," added Daley-McLean, whose glittering England career coincided with Scarratt's for over a decade.
"She's probably a more experienced head now and is doing a bit more leading, whereas previously from her we've seen her on the ball, carrying it and finishing off tries.
"She's now steering that England backline and supporting Helena [Rowland] and Zoe [Harrison].
"It's a different role for her this year, but once she gets her hands on the ball in big games we'll still see a traditional Emily Scarratt.
"She thrives under that pressure and is a big part of the team."
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