Steve Diamond, who is hoping to have a clearer picture this Friday regarding his winter recruitment, believes there was one particular reason to cheer following last weekend’s rare winning start to a new Premiership campaign by Sale. 

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Not since September 2013 had the Manchester club managed to win their opening round league game and even when the 2019/20 tournament started up again in mid-August at Harlequins they effectively failed to get off the bus and lost at Harlequins. 

However, their seven-year itch was finally scratched last Friday, Sale defeating Northampton 32-23 in round one at The AJ Bell, and they will now look to double up when they visit newly-promoted Newcastle next Friday. 

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Sam Underhill reflects on England’s defensive masterclass versus Ireland

Sale scored four tries versus the Saints, clinching the bonus point with a 60th-minute score from AJ MacGinty, and the general level of clinical finishing they produced left Diamond enthusiastic about what he had seen.

“Our discipline let us down but I have given them a week off that,” he said reflecting on the 17-7 penalty count that went against Sale on a night where they also shipped a yellow card. “I put it down to being ring rusty and bring frustrated, all those words that we have hopefully got out of our system. 

“Defensively we were very good, set-piece went well and in attack, we had 80 per cent conversion when we were in the 22 which was good. Rohan van Rensburg made one of his linebreaks and we just forced an error, so it could have been 100 per cent which was a big work on. Even though we finished fifth last year our conversion rate in the 22 was about 30 per cent, so it’s a big thing we had a look at.”

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Prior to last weekend’s round one encounter, Diamond had spoken of his optimism regarding nailing down some new overseas signings due to the injury situation at the club. He had hoped something would be in place by this Tuesday, but nothing has yet been set in stone.   

“A lot happening but none of them is visaed yet. We’re hopeful by Friday one of them will be in the country and we’re hopeful by Friday we will have a decision on one of the others, and the international back-rower we are just fine-tuning our recruitment process, making sure he is the right man.”

Diamond added that he is also satisfied with the revised Premiership regulations governing Covid-19. “Pretty fair,” he said about the altered points allocation if a match is cancelled due to the virus. The league and the professional game board are in a position of trying to do the best for all, so all fair and equitable if games are called off.”

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