Referee decisions ‘difficult’ to understand, says Steve Diamond after Sale Sharks loss to Gloucester

By Ed Owen

Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond was left mystified by refereeing decisions after his side were brushed aside 29-3 by Gloucester at Kingsmeadow in the Aviva Premiership.

The Sharks struggled in the set-piece – they conceded ten penalties from the scrum and lost four of their own lineouts.

The constant giveaways puzzled Diamond, who cast doubts upon referee Luke Pearce’s reading of the game.

He said: “I find it difficult that at ten of Gloucester’s scrums, we give ten penalties away which sounds pretty ridiculous and the interpretation of that is difficult.

“Our average penalty count this season is ten and it was 21 today which says something about the (referee’s) interpretation.”

The Cherry-and-Whites took full advantage of these opportunities with fly-half Freddie Burns converted five penalties without reply in the opening half-hour.

Danny Cipriani kicked Sale’s only points of the game just before half-time in an otherwise error-strewn afternoon for the 25-year-old.

The England international – who earlier this week called for more consistent performances from the Sharks – failed to pull off a series of risky passes.

Gloucester continued to dominate after the break, sealing their sixth straight victory at home with a try from Akapusi Qera and a penalty try – both converted by Burns.

It made for a disappointing return to Kingsmeadow for Sale head coach Bryan Redpath, who resigned from the victors in April.

Diamond was frustrated by his side’s poor attacking play – despite carving multiple good opportunities in both halves they were unable to go over.

“In the second half, we had to convert some of the possession we had into points,” said Diamond.

A lack of cutting edge remains a problem for the bottom-placed side – their 113 points scored in this Aviva Premiership is more than 50 points less than any other side.

Sale will hope to return to winning ways on November 30 in their next Premiership clash against Northampton at the Salford City Stadium.

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