Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond admitted it had been a season to forget as his side finished their troublesome league campaign with victory over London Wasps.
First-half Dan Braid and Tom Brady tries cancelled out Wasps flyer Christian Wade’s double, before Nick Macleod’s third penalty sealed a 21-20 victory.
Despite finishing their Aviva Premiership season on a high in front of a packed out Salford City Stadium, Diamond insisted his side failed to reach their potential this year.
“We’ve had a poor season considering what our expectations were at the start of the season,” said Diamond.
“Considering the training facilities, the stadium and the players we have, I thought we should be pushing for the top six this season.
“But for most of the year we’ve been in a survival scrap.
“We have a long time now to prepare for a better season next year.”
Sale broke the deadlock in the seventh minute when Dwayne Peel switched play to the left flank for winger Brady to finish in the corner.
The visitors pinned Sale back in the 16th minute after Wade finished off a Joe Simpson break-away from a tap penalty, and Tommy Bell converted.
The Sharks reclaimed the lead minutes later, as Kiwi flanker Braid collected the ball from the base of a collapsed maul, to dive over, with Macleod adding the extras.
Welsh fly-half Macleod increased Sale’s lead with a penalty early in the second-half, before a Bell converted Wade try from the restart reduced the deficit.
The game was then decided with the boot, as former Sale man Bell kicked two penalties, before Macleod’s conversion sealed the victory with four minutes remaining.
Diamond cut an irate figure on the touchline throughout the game, and expressed his frustration at the officials’ reluctance to penalise infringements at the ruck.
“I don’t think we were helped by the ref,” said Diamond.
“There was a lack of communication with his touch-judges, and they were able to spoil a lot of our driving play and they got away with it.
“We didn’t play well in the second-half, as we lost our composure, but we got into the ascendancy in the first-half.
“But we didn’t play very well so we’re disappointed to be honest. It’s a bit quiet in the changing room now.”
Image courtesy of Sale Sharks, via YouTube, with thanks