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Alex Sanderson issues Tom Curry update after England star leaves field early

By PA
Tom and Ben Curry /PA

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Alex Sanderson admitted Sale Sharks had bucked a trend by beating Heineken Champions Cup opponents the Ospreys despite a hefty penalty-count going against his team.

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Sale conceded 18 penalties to the Ospreys’ four but still prevailed 21-13 in Swansea.

“We came away with a win down in south Wales on a wet day in a big competition, so I am very happy with the outcome,” Sale rugby director Sanderson said.

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“I thought there were things we could have done better in terms of our performance – the penalty count, playing with 14 men for nearly 20 minutes.

“I thought we did the fundamentals very well in that first 25 minutes. We were clinical in the Ospreys’ 22, which is something we had been working on. We were physical in that area, and we were back to our best defensively.

“We saw all of it in that first half, and we couldn’t seem to get a foothold in the second. It was penalty after penalty that led to another yellow card. That penalty count goes against the trend of winning rugby games, really.”

Lock Lood De Jager and flanker Ben Curry were both sin-binned, with Sale not scoring a point after the 25th minute.

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The visitors cruised into a 21-3 lead midway through the first half after tries from centre Rohan Janse Van Rensburg, hooker Ewan Ashman and lock Jean-Luc Du Preez, with AJ MacGinty converting all three scores.

But Ospreys dominated the second period, hitting back through a Luke Morgan try, while Josh Thomas followed Gareth Anscombe’s first-half penalty with a conversion and penalty.

Reflecting on not collecting a try bonus-point, Sanderson added: “I feel that if we had continued to play in the right areas, and had better discipline, we should have got those four tries. Physically, we looked dominant.”

Sale skipper and England flanker Tom Curry went off in the second half, meanwhile, and Sanderson said: “He is just carrying a bit of an old man’s back!

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“We’ve managed him these last couple of weeks, and he was really fresh and sharp this week, so I am sure it is just a case of managing it through the week. If he needs a bit of time off, we’ll give him a bit of time off.”

While Sale have set themselves up for a full-scale tilt at French heavyweights Clermont Auvergne next weekend, Ospreys face a Paris appointment with in-form Racing 92.

Ospreys’ Wales lock Adam Beard said: “It was a tough old game. Sale are a very big, physical side and we knew what was coming today.

“The second half was a different performance from our guys. We maybe give them too much in that first half to get back into it.

“It was (about) keeping hold of the ball in the second half and keeping our discipline, and we are a much more dangerous team when we do those things.”

It had been a difficult and emotional week for the Ospreys after one of their players – 25-year-old hooker Ifan Phillips – suffered life-changing injuries following a road traffic collision.

In tribute to their colleague, the Ospreys squad all wore shirts with the number two and Phillips’ name on them during the warm-up.

Ospreys head coach Toby Booth said: “As a mark of one of our team-mates, we warmed up in the kit that we did.

“It is about trying to support in the immediacy, but that support is going to need to continue post-hospital, into the next phase of his life and long-term.

“We will make a commitment, as the Ospreys, to do that.”

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