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Steve Diamond takes swipe at referee after Sale beat Leicester

Published 01/10/2016

Referee Craig Maxwell-Keys faced criticism after Sale's clash with Leicester
Referee Craig Maxwell-Keys faced criticism after Sale's clash with Leicester

Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond criticised referee Craig Maxwell-Keys despite his team earning a 34-30 victory over Leicester.

Diamond's team fell 17-7 down after 17 minutes of the Aviva Premiership tussle following two Peter Betham tries, but they recovered to lead 24-20 by the interval.

It was an advantage they would not relinquish but Diamond was frustrated Sale were not awarded a penalty try at the end of the first half.

He said: "We could have got the bonus point just before half-time but a controversial decision didn't go our way. There was front peel, a two-on-one and the guy came through and deliberately knocked it on."

Diamond was similarly annoyed at the refereeing in the scrum, with Maxwell-Keys penalising the Sharks front row throughout the encounter.

The Sale boss added: "We didn't get a scrum all day so to come out of the game where you don't get a scrum and win, you've got to be delighted. Statistically, we've got the best scrum in the competition over the last two years, we've not lost a ball but we gave five penalties away today.

"We've got Kieran Longbottom who's come from Saracens to join us and he's playing against a lad who's making it, but we're adjudged to be illegal five or six times. It's unheard of, it was a rookie performance by the kid (Maxwell-Keys).

"The referee had a reasonable game apart from certain areas, which were crucial decisions, and that's what we come across regularly."

Leicester boss Richard Cockerill was also frustrated after seeing his side fail to back up last weekend's excellent performance against Bath.

They defeated the West Country outfit 34-14 but the Tigers made too many defensive errors in their defeat to Sale.

Cockerill said: "There was poor execution, we've got to look after the ball. We coughed up soft tries and were, on a couple of occasions, very easy to score against.

"Away from home, when you're in control of the game, you need to be better than that and we weren't. It's a concern that we keep conceding tries like that and it's costing us games.

"We're working on everything but players make poor decisions and you get caught, and it happened at least twice today. We got caught too easily and are making poor, fundamental errors."

After Mike Phillips had put the Sharks in front, the Tigers appeared in control following Owen Williams' penalty which secured the 17-7 advantage, but a Paolo Odogwu try let the hosts back in, much to the frustration of Cockerill.

"Phillips' try seemed very easy," Cockerill said. "No one went to the breakdown and he ran through the middle of us and scored. With the second, we got exposed at the back of the lineout where people weren't doing their jobs.

"Credit to Sale, they played well and they deserved the win but it's two steps forwards and two steps back."

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