Lacking firepower: Montpellier simply too strong for Sale Sharks in Heineken Cup defeat, says Bryan Redpath

By Ed Owen

Sale Sharks director of rugby Bryan Redpath accepted his side were second best to a strong Montpellier team as they suffered their first Heineken Cup loss.

Despite opening the scoring with a try from Mark Cueto – courtesy of a deft cross-field chip by Danny Cipriani – the Sharks found it difficult to cope with Montpellier’s formidable attacking line-up.

And although the scores were close at 11-12 early in the second half, Francois Trinh-Duc’s try in the 49th minute opened the floodgates for two more tries, eventually winning 33-18.

But the Scot was happy with the way his side fought back to push the Frenchmen all the way.

“Winning here is a difficult challenge and winning matches in Europe is hard. We just didn’t have enough firepower to compete,” said Redpath to the BBC.

“It got a bit messy and sloppy for us, and we must give credit to Francois Trinh Duc. He set up two great tries with chip kicks and finished one himself.

“We could have crumbled at 12-8 but didn’t. We fought back, we had opportunities, but they got a couple of lucky bounces.”

Timoci Nagusa also scored for Montpellier and a clever chip from Trinh-Duc helped set up a try for scrum-half Julien Tomas.

Richie Vernon later capitalised on a mistake to score a consolation try for the visitors – which Rob Miller converted – but it was too little, too late for the Sharks.

Despite the loss, Redpath remained philosophical about Sale’s chances in the Cup and wants to turn their focus back on league form.

He said: “This competition is for the very big clubs and it’s hard to compete with them at the moment.

“The Premiership will be and always has been our main focus.

“We wanted to make sure that the players didn’t embarrass themselves and I don’t think they did at all.”

Sharks’ next fixture is in the Aviva Premiership, against the Worcester Warriors at Sixways on November 2.

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