Champions Cup: Alex Sanderson delighted with ‘nerve wracking’ win for Sale over Bristol

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Despite describing it as a “nerve-wracking” experience, Sale Sharks boss Alex Sanderson was delighted his team have advanced to the Champions Cup quarter-finals for a second successive season.

Sale had to play most of the match with 14 players, after Arron Reed was red carded, but still managed to beat Bristol 35-29 at Ashton Gate to seal a 44-39 aggregate win over two legs.

Reed received his marching orders for a shoulder to the head of Bristol‘s Luke Morahan late in the first half and the Sharks had to play with 13 players for 10 minutes in the second half when Nick Schonert was yellow carded.

Improved performance

Despite those setbacks, Sale managed to secure the result and Sanderson was happy that there was improvement from his team after a lacklustre display in the first leg which they lost 10-9 at the AJ Bell Stadium last weekend.

“I did guarantee a better performance than last week, and I think we had it from both sides,” he said.

“It was a pleasure to be part of, as nerve-wracking as it was.

“The bench had a real impact and we knew we had to maintain the dominance of the scrum and the maul, which we did.

“To lose an extra man against a side like Bristol with (Charles) Piutau and (Semi) Radradra, we were always going to chase shadows for a while so getting back to 14 men felt like a win.

“There was a lot of effort, a bit of tactics and mostly heart.

“We play at our best with our backs against the wall and the only space is to fight. We can go anywhere and win.”

On the Reed red card, Sanderson added: “Arron is not a dirty player by any stretch. He has worked hard on his defence.

“He is properly gutted, and we will pull him and pull him tight. I don’t think we will ever see that off him again.

“It was one of those things, mistimed, and Morahan came in off his right, but there is no shame on Arron.”

Bristol’s loss means their season is effectively over as they are languishing in 10th position in the Premiership standings – some way off the Champions Cup qualification race for next season.

Their director of rugby, Pat Lam, was disappointed but took the defeat on the chin.

“Well done to Sale and Alex – fully deserved,” he said.

“In the first half, they did all the play, and we talked about it at half-time. We gave them a lead, and then gave them another lead, and we didn’t manage the last 12 minutes of the game at all well.

“It’s probably like our season. We are fighting, but we are fighting to get the game back after some simple things not done well.

“For us to go to the next level, these are things we have got to sort, and we will.

“To get ahead (on aggregate) and not manage it well at the end, we have only got ourselves to blame.

“At 24-24 we felt we had the momentum, but we gave away some silly penalties. We got one try back, then we turned the ball over and they shut the game down.

“It pretty much sums up our season – a lot of good stuff, but some simple things that were costly.”

READ MORE: Premiership: Sale boss Alex Sanderson backs the 20-minute red card law

The article Champions Cup: Alex Sanderson delighted with ‘nerve wracking’ win for Sale over Bristol appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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