ZACH Mercer says the Bath squad are fully aware that further poor performances could well prove costly in the race for the Aviva Premiership play-offs.

Todd Blackadder’s side dropped out of the top four last weekend after a heavy 29-12 defeat away at Newcastle Falcons and are now down to sixth in the table.

West Country rivals Gloucester currently occupy the last play-off position but every team down to eighth-placed Sale Sharks, who visit the Rec on Saturday, are within five points of the Cherry and Whites.

With seven games of the regular season to go, back-rower Mercer knows nothing less than the very best will do for Bath from now on.

“That is a reflection on how tough the league is this year and how close it is getting, you can’t afford to slip up,” said Mercer.

“We left some points out there against Newcastle and we need to bounce back otherwise it will slowly start going away from us.

“We have to try to put the last performance right against Sale. Everyone wants to respond to it in a positive manner.

“Everyone is doing their little individual bits to make sure we go out there and put a really good performance in that we should of ourselves as well as the fans.”

The loss at Newcastle ended a run of four straight victories for Bath, who had won five of six games in 2018 before the trip north to Kingston Park. With their league record currently reading eight wins and seven defeats from 15 fixtures, Mercer knows Bath must find a way to be more consistent.

“We have put in some good results since the turn of the year but there has been a common theme –winning a couple then losing,” he said.

“We are trying to work out why that is the case. It is difficult because it is more of a mental aspect.”

Bath will want to start another strong run against Sale this weekend, although Mercer is well aware that Steve Diamond’s side pose plenty of threats.

“Sale have got some really good players throughout their team,” he added.

“They have a very attacking mindset with players like Denny Solomona, James O’Connor and Marland Yarde to name just a few, and their set-piece is very strong too.

“It is going to be a very exciting game because both teams will look to attack, so it should be a good one to watch.”