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Diamond frustrated by Sale collapse

Sale's director of rugby Steve Diamond was frustrated his side could not finish their season on a high note after squandering a 10-point lead in their 22-20 defeat at London Irish.

The Sharks had led 20-10 early in the second half following tries from Mark Easter and Tom Arscott, with Joe Ford adding two conversions and as many penalties, but a revival from Irish saw Sale's run of five away wins in the Aviva Premiership come to an end.

Diamond said: "We want to win every game and, being 10 points up with wind advantage in the second half, we should have done so.

"We should have kicked the points on offer and it would have been nice to finish with a win."

However, Diamond did concede that motivation for the final game, where nothing was at stake for Sale, proved a key factor in their slip-up.

"It was difficult to motivate us for this game when we have already qualified for Europe," he added.

Australian centre James O'Connor, in his last match for Irish before departing for Toulon, provided the game's spark and he drew praise from Diamond.

O'Connor scored just one penalty, missing several others, but was heavily involved for Andy Fenby's two tries and Marland Yarde's score, while he added the extras two of the Exiles' three touchdowns.

"He was on fire every time he touched the ball and was the difference between the two sides," said Diamond.

Danny Cipriani was an absentee for the visitors, with Diamond confirming that he had been rested.

"It was my decision to leave Danny out. It's all about game management and I wanted to give the youngsters like Joe Ford a go. I have received no approach from England to rest him." Diamond added.

Irish's director of rugby Brian Smith was happy that Cipriani was absent.

"Leaving Cips out did us a big favour as he is one of their big guns," Smith said.

Despite the victory, Smith was unhappy with his side's performance and their season as a whole following their 10th-place finish.

"We found a way to win but our performance was ropey and scratchy," Smith said. "We could have made it more comfortable than it was had we kicked our goals and not missed our line kicks.

"It's disappointing to finish only 10th, we had an opportunity to kick on and challenge for Europe when we won away at Saracens and Wasps, but we failed to do so. However, we have a relatively strong squad which tested our resources."


From Belfast Telegraph