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'It went wrong for us against their set-piece power': Sale highlight why they got hit for six in France

By PA
(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Sale head coach Alex Sanderson pledged his team will bounce back from the bitter disappointment of their 45-21 Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final defeat at La Rochelle. A week after scoring six tries of their own in a 57-14 demolition of the Scarlets to reach the last eight for the first time in 15 years, Sale got hit for six themselves as the Jono Gibbes and Ronan O’Gara-inspired French side laid down their credentials with a first-ever trip into the final four.

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Sanderson, whose Sale team only trailed 18-16 at half-time before La Rochelle duo Raymond Rhule and Geoffrey Doumayrou both scored two second-half tries each, said: “I thought we were at the races after an extremely competitive first half in which we gave them some relatively soft tries. But we weren’t in the second half and we have to be better if we want to come to places like this in the future and win.

“We had parity in most of the collisions around the field, but it went wrong for us against their set-piece power. I knew the players would keep fighting and I was proud of their effort. It is a learning curve for us and you have to lose games like these before you can come back and win them. This is only the beginning for us and we will bounce back.”

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Northampton and Wales out-half Dan Biggar guests on RugbyPass All Access

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Northampton and Wales out-half Dan Biggar guests on RugbyPass All Access

Sanderson took off World Cup winner Faf de Klerk with 20 minutes to go as he tried everything he could to claw back the game. It was the first time in his twelve games in charge of the Sharks that Sanderson had seen his team concede more than four tries.

“They scored two quick tries in the second half that put us on the back foot and we weren’t sure about the slap down try in the first half,” said de Klerk. “La Rochelle are a good team and they played a great brand of rugby. I was disappointed to come off, but I back the coaches.”

La Rochelle may not have won the Champions Cup before, but Gibbes knows what it takes to go all the way from his time coaching at Leinster and O’Gara was a two-time winner in his Munster days. Currently sitting in second place in the Top 14 they have plenty of silverware in their eye line. “We needed a whole 80-minute performance because we knew it was going to be a stern test. We knew we had to use our strength, which is using the ball in hand,” said Gibbes.

“We have got to take confidence from the last few weeks. This will be our first semi-final and we have just created a little bit of history. We will keep on taking each 80 minutes at a time and make sure we leave the pitch with no regrets. We have passed a stern test and we need to use the energy of the last few weeks to get excited about the semi-final.”

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Shaylen 1 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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Jon 7 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

This is a bit dramatic for me, I think the Rebels and Force cultures would be very strong, and if a player is chosen from either, you can be confident they are in a good head space and ready. Whether they quite have the technical or tactical foundations of the other two states is where one would way their risk of selection. I see no need for Schmidt to worry about that risk in this squad. The main reason I could see a predominance of players from Brumbies and Reds, is simple cohesion. What might the coaching group make of what’s lacking in the Tahs, and to a lesser extent Rebels and Force’s, franchise? Certainly sides (players) that are running irish plays like we saw from that lovely McDermott long ball with have a head start. I hope the players can continue it at International level. Really liked what I saw of Wright (don’t know player focus and just hadn’t seen a lot of him anyway) in that game, can see him being a glue in a Wallaby side too. A with the similar worry of selecting players like Ryan, I think it unfounded to worry so much about forward balance at the moment. Including both Wright and Skelton in the same lineout is not going to lose you games gainst Wales. Nor will any unknown weakenss Wales might find in Ryan be exploited to any great extent. It is the perfect time to introduce such a young player. What other shortcuts might Schmidt want to make now, just a year out from hosting BIL? When Gamble came on the scene I thought he had a Pocock ability to break game apart along with performing the role of a openside well. I would be very keen to drop Leota/Hooper for Gamble, and in your squad make up, include Uru as a lock. Did you forget to remove Vunivalu from your team? Would you have Meafou in your squad if you could?

114 Go to comments
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