Sale Sharks need desperate turnaround after slumping to Northampton Saints defeat, insists John Mitchell

By James Scott

Newly appointed Sale Sharks Director of Rugby John Mitchell insisted his side must improve after their home defeat to Northampton Saints in his first game in charge.  

The Saints had the better of the first half with Jamie Elliott, Soane Tonga’uiha and Tom May all going over, with Ryan Lamb adding 12 points with the boot. 

The Sharks responded positively in the second half, but tries from Rob Miller and Tommy Taylor were not enough as Saints held firm to win 16-27. 

Former Sale player Mitchell claimed his forwards could not cope with the superior performance of the Northampton pack, and suffered the consequences. 

“Northampton’s forward pack was outstanding in the first half,” said the New Zealander.  

“The determining factor of that period was the lineout drive and I thought they were very effective. 

“Our backs lived off crumbs in that first half. We never built any pressure or any starting position.”

Nick Macleod replaced Danny Cipriani at fly half for the fog-ridden game that was barely visible from the sidelines, kicking two penalties but missing both conversions.

Mitchell was pleased with his side’s rejuvenation in the second half but admitted they still have a lot to work on in training in order to improve. 

“In the second half, we showed better character and built some pressure,” said Mitchell. “The forwards had a torrid time tonight.”

“We’re still very immature as a side and we get frustrated easily, so we’ve got to learn to become more patient.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in the forward area. 

“I thought we had made some growth in the scrum and the lineout, but we got hurt in that area tonight, so we’re going to have to spend a lot of time on that going forward.”

The defeat leaves Sale rooted to the foot of the Aviva Premiership and still searching for their second league victory of the season.

The Sharks return to European duty next weekend as they take on Toulon in their Heineken Cup pool six game at the Salford City Stadium. 

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