Sale Sharks: Alex Sanderson ‘proud but angry' after defeat to Clermont

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Sale Sharks: Alex Sanderson ‘proud but angry’ after defeat to Clermont
© PA Images Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks – Gallagher Premiership – Semi-Final – Sandy Park

Sale Sharks boss Alex Sanderson was pleased with a number of aspects of their performance against Clermont Auvergne but was left frustrated by the 25-19 Champions Cup defeat.

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The English outfit produced a good first half display but that wasn’t rewarded on the scoreboard as they went into the break level at 19-19.

As Clermont lifted their game and cut out the mistakes, Sale went the other way and made a number of needless errors, especially under the high ball.

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Although the Sharks defended manfully, stopping the Frenchmen from getting over the line, two Morgan Parra penalties sealed the win for the hosts.

Results will eventually turn

“I can’t fault the effort and application of my players and we came away with a lot of pride and a lot of anger,” said Sanderson, whose side scored tries through Jean-Luc du Preez, Tom Roebuck and Bevan Rodd and had another from Will Cliff disallowed by the TMO.

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“I feel like we nearly won it. Anyone coming here and taking a losing bonus-point would normally be happy, but every point matters in this tournament and we were better than what we came away with.

“I feel frustrated allied with a sense of pride because we didn’t give an inch physically. We stuck to the game plan in the first half and looked dangerous.

“Now we know what we’ve got to do to go through and that’s beat Ospreys at home. We are getting there and we are starting to gel.

“We’ll go home, lick our wounds and start building for next weekend. We are better than the scoreline indicated in Clermont and if we keep applying ourselves, and keep building, the results will start to turn our way.”

Two late penalties from former France scrum-half Parra clinched the four points for Clermont and enabled them to end a run of four successive home defeats in the Champions Cup. They now have to go to Ulster in the last round to try to clinch their place in the knock-out stages.

“I know Toulouse won in Belfast last season, but Ulster have a great record at Ravenhill against French sides over the last 10 years. It is going to be a really difficult challenge,” said head coach Jono Gibbes, who used to coach Ulster.

“It was a mixed bag against Sale. Things went against us at times and the players showed a lot of character, but we complicated things for ourselves.

“It was a good test for us and Morgan Parra coming on and kicking those two penalties ensured there was some reward for our effort.”

France international Damian Penaud made one try and scored another to pick up the Heineken Star of the Match award. Gibbes moved him off the wing into the centre and he was the stand-out performer just ahead of the Six Nations.

“We just wanted to get the ball into Damian’s hands as often as possible because so many things happen around him,” said Gibbes.

Steve Borthwick praises his Leicester’s ‘incredible’ spirit

Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick lauded his troops for their stunning last-gasp 29-28 win over Connacht in their Champions Cup clash.

Three tries in the latter stages of the second half helped the Premiership frontrunners overturn an 18-point deficit with Hosea Saumaki crossing in the final stages to earn a spot in the last-16.

“Delighted, obviously, with the win and really pleased with the players,” Borthwick said.

“We might not have scored at the end but either way, I would have been proud and I would have thanked the players for their efforts.”

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