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Diamond 'peturbed' despite quarter-final win

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Diamond 'perturbed' despite quarter-final win

Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond was disappointed with his side’s second-half display in a 20-10 victory over Connacht which saw them reach the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup.

The Sharks were excellent in the first half, touching down twice via Byron McGuigan and Denny Solomona before going into the interval 20-3 ahead.

Although the Irish province improved – scoring late on through Kyle Godwin – Sale had done enough to make it through to the last four where they will face either La Rochelle or Bristol.

Diamond said: “In the first half we controlled all the play and didn’t make many mistakes but in the second half we came out and made a few errors early doors.

“Connacht got into their stride, which they didn’t manage to do in the first half, and then it became a highly-competitive contest after that.

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“Against a side like Connacht, it’s never going to be one-way traffic. We were fairly good in the first half and there were two equal teams in the second half.”

Connacht had plenty of pressure after the interval but Sale were resilient in defence and Diamond was pleased with their defensive effort.

What frustrated the Sharks boss, however, was the team’s inability to control territory because of needless errors.

“Our defence was pretty good all day – I thought they scored a good try – but I was more perturbed about us not finding field position like we did (in the) first half,” he added.

“We went away from keeping Rohan Janse Van Rensburg in the game, who made their number 10’s life misery in the first half. We seemed to lose that for some reason.”

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With the Sharks in contention for both the Premiership and Challenge Cup, Diamond says that they will not prioritise one competition over the other.

“For us, we’re going to have a crack at both,” he added. “If we can get to a final within two years of Ged (Mason) and Simon (Orange) owning the club, we would be delighted.

“If we can get into the Champions Cup next year, we would be even more delighted – so we’re going at it on all fronts.”

Meanwhile, Connacht boss Andy Friend was disappointed with the amount of mistakes the visitors made, despite a battling display in the second period.

“With it 20-3 at half-time, we knew we had a fight on our hands in the second half,” he said.

“I thought we did fight in the second half but in finals footy, you can’t make that many errors and expect to win.”

Friend also defended his team selection after making a number of changes and resting some first-choice individuals.

He added: “We’ve done that all year. We’ve picked on what we believe is form and we are trying to build a squad as well.

“Yes, it’s about today but it’s also a long game there where you’ve got to give players opportunities.

“You’ve got to challenge players and give them their chance. Some take it, some need a bit more time, so that’s something we will assess, but we are building a squad.”

PA

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Diamond 'perturbed' despite quarter-final win