Sale Sharks 21-9 London Irish, Aviva Premiership
Diamond praise for battling Sharks
November 2, 2012
Danny Cipriani steered Sale to their first win of the Premiership campaign at Salford City Stadium © PA Photos
Sale Sharks boss Steve Diamond praised his side's resilience after they shrugged off a turbulent week to notch their first win of the Aviva Premiership campaign.
Tries from Nick Macleod and Johnny Leota and the boot of fly-half Danny Cipriani carried the under-fire hosts to a 21-9 victory over fellow strugglers London Irish at the Salford City Stadium. The win, that brought them to within four points of the Exiles at the foot of the table, came just four days after Diamond took control of the side with former director of rugby Bryan Redpath demoted to head coach.
"The week's been different," admitted Diamond. "But the coaching team behind the scenes know what they're doing, the lads paid attention to what we've done in the week and we managed to get a hard-fought win tonight.
"We stuck to the game plan and we played well in the first half. We had a shaky start at the start of the second half where we gave the ball away six or seven times through handling errors."
Sale were dealt a blow ahead of kick off when lock Richie McCaw was ruled out with an ankle injury that looks set to sideline him for Scotland's date with New Zealand next weekend. But the Sharks' pack rose to the occasion with Diamond delighted with their performance at the set-piece.
"We've managed to get our scrum sorted out to a large extent and our lineout's effective," he added. "Ross Harrison needs a special mention at 19 years of age as he was outstanding. There was also Tony Buckley, who's got a lot of critics but is coming on by the day. The problem we'll have is that Ireland will probably take him very soon."
For the second week running London Irish boss Brian Smith was left to rue the performance of the officials. Last time out against Harlequins his side were denied by a controversial decision by the Television Match Official but this time it was the referee's handling of the scrum that infuriated the Exiles' boss.
"We were on a five-day turnaround which is a little difficult, but we also had the added issue of the international players being unable to train this week. We were patched up, but fair play to Sale as they got hold of the game early. However, I thought we were a little unlucky with the scrum penalties in the first half.
"Certainly going into the game we had a dominant scrum. We struggled to understand that and the boys were a little frustrated. We lost our discipline and that cost us, but fair play to them, they scored twice against us and we fell off tackles against their power centres a couple of times.
"We believed we could peg them back so we made a tactical change to play with three locks in an attempt to try and squeeze them. At 15-9 we looked like we were going to turn things around, but at the end of the day we came away without even a bonus point so we've got egg on our face now."
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