Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson hailed the mix of ‘northern grit and South African steel’ which helped his side complete a remarkable 20-19 victory over Wasps.

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Sanderson’s side had four players yellow carded in the second half at the Ricoh Arena but dug in to keep themselves in the contest before Josh Beaumont crashed over for a last-gasp try.

Rob Du Preez’s nerveless conversion nudged the Sharks ahead and they held on to become the first team to win a Premiership match having had four men sin-binned.

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“It’s unbelievable,” Sanderson said. “I thought we’d sealed the game for Wasps there.

“We’re trying to build belief, a northern grit with South African steel, and that brought us through.

“In every game there’s a sin-bin. We had four today, we’re top of the leaderboard by some way so we’ve got to sort that out.

“It’s a really fine line, that intensity, that aggression and the discipline. What I don’t want to do is take anything away from this emotive, physical team that I’m lucky to be a part of, but we’ve got to get better discipline-wise.”

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Sale struck first in Coventry when Akker Van Der Merwe barrelled over in the 11th minute.

Malakai Fekitoa responded for the hosts before Du Preez and Jimmy Gopperth exchanged penalties, Sharks taking a 13-10 lead into the break.

Gopperth’s boot edged Wasps in front but the home side did not take full advantage of their near-constant numerical advantage, with the visitors at times down to 13 men, and were made to pay when Beaumont provided the late sucker punch.

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“It was a proper game of rugby,” Sanderson said.

“Some might say it’s not entertaining but that’s rugby. Especially at the highest level, it never ends up 30-40; 20-19, that’s a game.

“I’m happy with the win but we can always do better.”

Sanderson’s opposite number Lee Blackett was left scratching his head as to how his side were unable to build an unassailable advantage against the depleted visitors.

Last season’s beaten finalists remain ninth and their head coach said: “I’m really frustrated.

“We put ourselves in a position to win the game but there have been a lot of tight games recently where we’ve come out on the wrong end.

“They had a couple of opportunities close to our line, they took two of them and we didn’t take our opportunities.

“We should have been in a position midway through the second half where we were too far ahead for them to come back in but we allowed them to stay in the game.

“We shouldn’t be lacking confidence, we know what qualities we’ve got.

“When guys are desperate to get back to winning, you start to get more nervous, and that’s how we look at times.”

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