'We went to Harlequins and we thought we were Real Madrid': Sale's disastrous 7-year opening day run:
Steve Diamond and his Sale side are hell-bent on starting the new 2020/21 Gallagher Premiership campaign with a bang on Friday night at home to Northampton, seven years after they last won an opening weekend match.
Not since Gloucester were beaten in September 2013 have Sharks opened an English league campaign with a smile, Bath, Saracens, Newcastle, Wasps, Harlequins and Gloucester in October 2019 all emerging with a day one win over Sale.
Even Sale’s return to play following the March lockdown of the 2019/20 season was a disaster as they were limply beaten at Harlequins in August despite the newly-signed Manu Tuilagi heading up their all-star cast.
That outing was the start a nine-game run-in where Sale won just four matches and they eventually finished three points outside the Premiership play-offs, their season finishing chaotically with a walkover awarded to Worcester after 27 players and staff tested positive for the coronavirus.
Having been exonerated following incorrect allegations of partying in the Manchester area, Sale are now at the start line again and the hope is the sour taste of their August bus journey home from London will help cajole them into a long-awaited winning day one start.
Six weeks after Sale's season was abruptly ended off the field, Steve Diamond says: "Quite rightly we were cleared by the RFU"https://t.co/dvM2T57syd
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“We went to Harlequins and we thought we were Real Madrid, we can win any game any time. We didn’t play particularly well in that game,” said Diamond ahead of his team’s opening night tussle with Northampton, a side whose own post-lockdown form left much to be desired. “One of the lads brought that up this week, remembering the feeling on the bus coming back.
“We had beaten Exeter earlier away and I wouldn’t say we were thumped (in Sale’s second post-lockdown outing) but they won the game and we couldn’t have any qualms about it. Then we got our backsides into gear and we only lost to Bath after that, a disappointing home defeat, but a lot of it is in between the ears really. Jono Ross is vocal about it. I’m vocal about it. You have to put it behind you.
“The most important thing is we don’t have to get the attitude of these lads up. That is a pre-requisite of them being here and getting your detail right. If you get your detail right and the attitude is right, you have a fair wind behind you that you will be a little bit better than the other lads on the night.
“It really is pretty simple. A big thing for me is the start, a big thing for the team is the start. We’re not looking past the first game. We’re at home, we know we are good at home if we tick all those boxes, and we have trained bloody well over the last two weeks… with the squad and the coaching team we have got here we have got to be ambitious, thinking top four.”
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