Harlequins 21-9 Sale Sharks, Aviva Premiership, February 19
Anglesea laments sluggish start
February 19, 2011
Harlequins' Will Skinner takes down Sale's Henry Thomas during Saturday's clash at The Stoop © Getty Images
Sale Sharks coach Pete Anglesea was again left bitterly frustrated by a slow start after his side slumped to a 21-9 defeat to Harlequins at The Stoop on Saturday afternoon.
A week on from conceding 13 unanswered points in the opening 34 minutes of their loss at home to Bath, Sale found themselves 15-0 down by the end of the first quarter against Quins, following tries from hooker Joe Gray and fullback Mike Brown, and five points from the boot of fly-half Rory Clegg.
Sale made something of a game of it thereafter but they never really looked like turning the game around and ultimately managed just three Charlie Hodgson penalties over the course of 80 dispiriting minutes.
"We needed to start well but, like last week (against Bath), we didn't. We made the same mistakes. Our execution let us down," Anglesea said. "We let points in early doors and it's difficult to chase a game in these conditions as we forced too many passes."
Sale stand tenth in the Aviva Premiership standings, eight points above Newcastle and 11 clear of basement boys Newcastle. Anglesea admits that the table makes for grim reading but he remains confident that the Falcons can ease their lingering relegation fears in the coming weeks.
"Fortunately, we are not in the mire at present, but we are looking over our shoulders," Anglesea said. "We need a bit of confidence and a bounce of a ball to go our way. We are getting players back - Tom Brady, Andrew Sheridan and Jack Forster - and we have a few more to come back in the next week or so. One or two players make all the difference."
The aforementioned Sheridan played 70 minutes of the game at The Stoop and Anglesea revealed afterwards that he will be available for England's clash with France next weekend. "He's fine," the Sale boss said. "(England manager) Martin Johnson contacted us earlier in the week and wanted him to have a run-out to test his back."
Meanwhile, Quins director of rugby Conor O'Shea was thrilled after watching his side bounce back from last weekend's defeat at Exeter with a well-deserved victory which propels them up to fifth in the table.
"I'm very pleased," he said. "The conditions were horrific. We started fantastically. It was a reaction to last week's performance at Exeter. In the second half we lacked accuracy but our defence was outstanding. It's unbelievable how hard they work for one another."
O'Shea also singled out Rory Clegg for special praise after the fly-half proved an able deputy for first-choice No.10 Nick Evans by contributing 11 points.
"Clegg was outstanding for us. He was up against a top-class opponent in Charlie Hodgson and lacked nothing in comparison," the Irishman said.
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