Cipriani catches eye of Diamond
Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond paid tribute to Danny Cipriani after the fly-half helped inspire a hard-fought 18-11 win over high-flying Exeter.
The 27-year-old was instrumental as he provided the pass which sent former England winger Mark Cueto over the line in the 51st minute, before scoring himself eight minutes later.
Cipriani was replaced immediately after touching down, having sustained what appeared to be a minor knee injury as he was tackled en-route to the line in the act of scoring.
But it was a pleasing night's work for Cipriani in front of England coach Stuart Lancaster as Sale ended Exeter's eight-match winning run and moved into fourth place.
It was the Sharks' fourth successive Aviva Premiership win and Diamond admitted that Cipriani was the difference.
He said: "Cipriani produced two moments of magic, as he does, but that came on the back of pressure from the forwards and the lesser-known players. But he gets the reward by scoring a brilliant try and made a try for Cueto.
"I'm really pleased with our pack and our defence, so overall it was a good night for us. We're a good side and we showed that tonight in our intensity and our discipline."
Cipriani is out of contract at the end of the season and Diamond is hopeful of keeping the former Wasps man at the club.
He said: "The talks are positive. He wants to stay in Manchester, so we'll get round to having a chat in the next week or two and hopefully get it sorted."
Exeter were second-best throughout and their ill discipline saw them lose Damien Welch and Ben White to the sin-bin during the opening quarter of the match.
A late try from Thomas Waldrom rescued a losing bonus point but head coach Rob Baxter said: "Sale dominated the game and got what they deserved. They dominated the key areas and if you get on top in those conditions then you deserve to win.
"Ultimately a bonus point is a relatively successful outcome for us considering how we looked at times during the game."
"We gave away a few early penalties and then got a couple of yellow cards, so we were under pressure right away then.
"We were hanging on for 10 minutes, which I thought we did really well, but the opposition played well and we didn't deal with that pressure very well.
"Physically and mentally we weren't quite at the races tonight but that wasn't how we have been performing this season. "We've been dominant in our set-piece exchanges but that wasn't there at all tonight."