Aviva Premiership wrap: Sale Sharks struggling after London Welsh loss
Andrew Binner take a look at the fourth round of Premiership matches, which saw Sale Sharks slump to defeat by London Welsh
Sharks in hot water
Another week, another poor performance from Sale Sharks meaning the north-west club has lost all four of their matches so far. It seems the combination of a new stadium, squad list and coaching structure is too much change for one season. As is often the case in these circumstances the coaches – rightly or wrongly – are usually the first to be blamed and as a result forwards coach Steve Scott has been sacked, with Director of Rugby Steve Diamond occupying the role temporarily. All is not lost for Sale as on paper they have a team that can challenge the Harlequins and Northampton but they must play with more self-belief and allow Dannny Cipriani to influence their game plan. Perhaps a run at full-back where the young England player gained so many headlines at Wasps may help the star get back to his best.
Irish and Welsh march on
A hugely improved London Irish side managed to record a first victory of their campaign which lifted them off the foot of the Premiership table much to the home crowds’ visible relief. They ran out 29-22 winners over Bath in a match dominated by the boot, with Steve Shingler and counterpart Olly Barkley both kicking five penalties. Rugby League convert Kyle Eastmond continued his successful switch to Union, picking up Bath’s only try. Meanwhile, London Welsh picked up where they left off last week by recording a fine 29-19 victory over struggling Sale in Salford. Fly-half Gordon Ross kicked 19 points for the Exiles and head coach Lyn Jones was happy but admittedly surprised in the turn around in fortunes for his men saying: “If you had asked me two weeks ago if we would have settled for a losing bonus-point at Sale, I would have bitten your hand off”. London Welsh are now up to ninth position in the Premiership table. Wins were also recorded for Gloucester over Wasps, Harlequins over Leicester Tigers away from home and Northampton Saints survived a huge second-half fight back from Worcester Warriors to scrape home 37-31 at Franklins Gardens.
Upset of the week
With Saracens having won their previous three outings against strong opposition, it would have taken a brave man to bet against them even at Exeter’s Sandy Park. However a gutsy defensive display at the death coupled with good finishing from Chiefs wing Sireli Naqelevuki secured a deserved 14-12 win for the west countrymen. The win will be particularly well received given the disappointing loss Chiefs suffered to new boys London Welsh last week. Sarries Director of Rugby Mark McCall saw the sin binning of England wing Chris Ashton as the difference between the two sides as Naqelevuki made his try with Saracens down to 14 men. However he also admitted his men were simply out-played, saying: “The fact that they scored a try during that [Ashton’s] sin-bin may have been our downfall. It was a difficult game in the conditions but their fundamentals were much better than ours”.