Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond believes a lack of concentration led to Sale’s loss against Saracens.
In Diamond’s first game in charge since John Mitchell’s unexpected departure, the Sharks stayed within nine points of their high-flying opponents before a disastrous finale.
Sale conceded fourteen points in the final twenty minutes to lose a previously tight game by more than twenty points, leaving Diamond disappointed at the 32-12 scoreline.
“For the first 60 minutes we were still in the game – if we could’ve just sorted our tackle awareness out in getting away from the ball we’d have been competitive,” said Diamond.
“We’ve just got to stick to what we do in the league and hopefully our endeavour will show.
“We proved last week against Worcester that we can be competitive right the way through but when you come up against a top four side like this, if you’re off your metal in the last 15 minutes they’ll make you pay.”
The Sharks started the brightest as Danny Cipriani scored two penalties inside the opening eight minutes, including an effort from inside his own half.
However, they could not hold on – an error-strewn performance saw Sarries’ Owen Farrell kick fifteen points in the first half.
With the score at 15-6 at half-time, Cipriani reduced the deficit with a third penalty – moved forward ten metres after the hosts argued with referee Richard Wigglesworth.
Saracens immediately hit back through Farrell to restore the nine-point gap, before a penalty from Cipriani to took the score to 18-12.
Sale’s hopes of victory were snuffed out by replacement Charlie Hodgson – the ex-Shark put David Strettle though with an incisive inside pass, which Farrell converted.
The England fly-half sealed the victory with a try of his own as Strettle turned provider – his kick taking Hodgson over the line before Farrell added the extras.
The loss will be even more keenly felt in light of London Irish’s shock victory away at Gloucester, extending the gap between the relegation-threatened sides from one point to five.
Sale now take a break from the domestic calendar next Friday to face Heineken Cup opponents Montpellier, before resuming away to Cardiff Blues on January 26.
Image courtesy of Sale Sharks, via YouTube, with thanks.