Alex Sanderson slams Wayne Barnes over scrum calls

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Sale Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson couldn’t hide his frustration after his side’s 32-15 Premiership loss against Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate.

Sanderson criticised the performance of referee Wayne Barnes and said he “couldn’t fathom” some of Barnes’ decisions around the scrums.

Still chasing away triumph

Their defeat means the Sharks are still winless away from home in the Premiership this season, while the Bears returned to winning ways in style with a bonus-point victory after four successive league defeats.

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

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 Rob 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.

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 Champions Cup resumption.

Director of rugby 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.”

No talk of records as Tigers take each game as it comes

Meanwhile, Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick is taking each game as it comes as their unbeaten start to the Premiership and European season continues.

Borthwick’s men have won 15 games out of 15 thus far in 2021/22 and are currently preparing for a league trip to Wasps on Sunday as they look to make it 16.

Victory over Wasps would equal Tigers’ all-time best streak from 1983/84, while also matching Newcastle’s Premiership record of 12 wins in the 1997/98 term.

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