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Diamond furious with referee

Published 12/04/2015

Steve Diamond was not impressed with the officials during Sale's defeat to London Irish
Steve Diamond was not impressed with the officials during Sale's defeat to London Irish

Director of rugby Steve Diamond could not contain his fury at the referee after Sale suffered a surprise defeat to London Irish at the Madejski Stadium.

The 25-23 loss put a huge dent in Sale's hopes of qualifying for European Cup rugby next season.

Sale remain in seventh position but they lost valuable ground on their closest rivals as they continued their miserable run in Reading, where they have failed to win since 2006.

Tom Arscott, who touched down twice, and Mike Haley were Sale's try scorers with Danny Cipriani kicking two penalties and a conversion.

Irish responded with three tries through Alex Lewington, who dotted down twice, and Andrew Fenby with Chris Noakes adding two penalties and two conversions.

Diamond was highly critical of the appointment of inexperienced referee Greg Macdonald.

"There were six experienced Premiership referees officiating in the Championship yesterday," he said.

"This was a massive game with livelihoods depending on it but too often our club are given inexperienced referees.

"We should have had two penalty tries in the first half and for the critical try just before half-time, their player was 15 metres offside when the kick was taken."

At that stage Sale were leading 10-6 when Noakes attempted a penalty from inside own half.

The kick fell short but Irish chased hard; Cipriani inexplicably chose to run the ball but his pass to Haley was fumbled, allowing Fenby to race away and score.

Diamond said: "Cipriani is an experienced player but he took the wrong option.

"This gave them momentum and allowed them to win the second half hands down as our game management was poor."

Sale now face an uphill task to qualify for Europe but Diamond remains confident.

"We are good at home and have Newcastle and Harlequins to come but we've got to come and beat a side like Irish who are in a transition period," he added.

Irish head coach Glenn Delaney accepted that Fenby's try was the turning point.

"It was a massive boost, we were incredibly lucky and it was almost unbelievable to be gifted such a try," he said.

"It was a nip-and-tuck game but those seven points were game-changing. I'm proud of the never-say-die attitude of the players as we found a way to win a very close game."

Irish had begun slowly and should have been well behind after 20 minutes but Sale could not capitalise on all their possession.

Delaney said: "The start didn't go according to plan but young Richard Palframan was outstanding at tight head. Our scrum took control and put us back in the game."

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