Sale Sharks 28-22 Saracens, Aviva Premiership, January 2
Anglesea praises Sharks' spirit
ESPNscrum Staff
January 2, 2011
Sharks boss Pete Anglesea talks to ESPN

Pete Anglesea believes the 28-22 victory over Saracens demonstrates the change in morale among the Sale Sharks players since he replaced Mike Brewer as head coach.

Former club captain Anglesea took over from Brewer two days before Christmas and, after suffering a 54-21 defeat at Aviva Premiership champions Leicester in his first match, watched his side end a five-game losing run.

First-half tries from new captain Mark Cueto, his predecessor James Gaskell and Chris Bell gave the hosts a 28-9 lead at the interval. Saracens came back in the second period when James Short crossed for their only try but, despite Owen Farrell's 17 points, had to settle for a losing bonus point. Anglesea was delighted with Sale's first Premiership win since October 22, one which he could see coming.

"It shows in the way the players walk around, you can see that their body language has changed," Anglesea said. "The attitude today was fantastic for me because I think there was one stage where we had a scrum about 13 minutes before half-time.

"We had a great scrum, the referee gave a penalty in our favour and all the backs ran over to all the forwards and I think that's some part of team spirit that we haven't seen in a long while. It touched me more than anything really."

Anglesea pinpointed the early score from England wing Cueto, who went off in the second half with cramp, as a significant confidence booster, and also saw the importance of the returning Charlie Hodgson, who kicked 13 points.

"We talked last week about having a big start and it was one of those situations where I think for about the first four minutes we were actually nervous, we actually dropped a few balls early doors," Anglesea added. "Then all of a sudden somebody does something in the game that inspires you, and I thought all of a sudden we relaxed and Charlie put us on the front foot and we played to our game plan."

Saracens assistant boss Paul Gustard reacts to the loss

Saracens first-team coach Mark McCall, who will take over as director of rugby from Brendan Venter after their next game, saw a changed Sale from the one which rolled over at Vicarage Road in September.

"Today we came across a very, very motivated Sale Sharks team, who were outstanding in the tackle area, outstanding in the physical exchanges and were better than us by a long, long way in those exchanges and that's why we came a very poor second best today," he said.

McCall sympathised with new signing Gavin Henson, who only had three touches of the ball at outside centre in his first start for almost two years. The Wales and British Lions international, who made his Saracens debut in the victory over Wasps last week, was withdrawn after 53 minutes.

"Gavin didn't see a lot of ball," McCall added. "They were on the front foot, they were in our half for the whole of the first half. He had a bit of defending to do, but it was a difficult day to be outside centre in a team getting beat 28-3."

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