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What Sale boss Alex Sanderson 'couldn't fathom' following loss to Bristol

By PA
Alex Sanderson

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Sale boss Alex Sanderson struggled to mask his frustration following a 32-15 Gallagher Premiership defeat against Bristol at Ashton Gate.

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Sanderson said he “couldn’t fathom” some decisions around the scrum made by referee Wayne Barnes.

And the result meant that Sale still haven’t won away in the Premiership this season, while Bristol put a run of four successive league defeats behind them to triumph in bonus-point fashion.

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“Any loss is a concern. I don’t see home and away as being any point of difference,” Sale rugby director Sanderson said.

“It might influence the referee, and I think it might have tonight, maybe.

“He’s one of the world’s best, but I couldn’t fathom some of those decisions around the scrum. I would have to have another look because there are a lot of moving parts to it.

“I will have a look at it and go through the proper channels.”

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Bristol full-back Luke Morahan, deputising for an injured Charles Piutau, claimed a try double, while hooker Will Capon also crossed, with Bristol posting two of their scores during sin-binned Sale and England flanker Tom Curry’s spell off the field.

Fly-half Callum Sheedy kicked two penalties and three conversions, before substitute scrum-half Andy Uren added a bonus-point try during the closing seconds.

Sale could not build on a solid first 40 minutes when hooker Ewan Ashman and centre Robert Du Preez scored tries, failing to register a point in the second period.

AJ MacGinty, who will join Bristol next season, booted a penalty and conversion, yet it proved a frustrating night for Sale after they saw two second-half tries disallowed for knock-ons.

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Sanderson added: “That was probably coming for them. In the last few weeks they’ve been close but no cigar, and they were good for that tonight.

“There were elements to our game which were pleasing, and some where we didn’t get the rewards I would have expected. The scrum was one in particular, so I will have another look at that.

“You don’t win games by conceding 32 points unless you are Harlequins. We played a game which was loose, high-scoring and entertaining, and that was exactly what Bristol wanted.

“Our defence in the wide channels wasn’t good enough, and the boys were apologising at half-time. That was what gave them quick ball and easy metres.

“It made it difficult to recover, and we will have to have a look at that.”

Bristol had lost narrowly to Leicester and Exeter in their last two games, but they finally clicked ahead of next week’s Heineken Champions Cup resumption.

Rugby director Pat Lam said: “We knew everyone was telling us we’ve got to win, and we know we’ve got to win, but we were interested in our performance.

“Little things had been costing us. It is a start tonight, and now we build on that and we are looking forward to the Champions Cup, getting our teeth stuck into that and getting into the next stage.

“I could sense we were not far off. That is a big step for us, it gives us a launchpad.”

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