Modest ambitions suit Diamond

Hampshire Chronicle: Sale boss Steve Diamond is keeping a lid of his team's ambitions Sale boss Steve Diamond is keeping a lid of his team's ambitions

Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond refused to set any lofty ambitions for his team after a magnificent defensive effort saw the Sharks beat league leaders Northampton.

Sale struggled throughout last season and were in a tight relegation battle.

Saturday's 19-6 victory means that a top-four finish in the Aviva Premiership is still on the cards this term, but Diamond believes that they have to be realistic.

He said: "Does the win give us more ambition? No, not really. This time last year we were scrapping it out for our lives and this year we're just glad to be in mid-table.

"Do I think top four is achievable? I'm not being coy but we see how it is every week and try to challenge the lads to get up for it. The one thing we have got, and what helped us last year, is togetherness.

"We went through it last year and we had to scrap it out and it's served us well, and in tight games like today you need that resolve."

Diamond also hailed his team's resolve after the Sharks kept Saints scoreless throughout the match.

He said: "In the first half we played reasonably well against the wind and in the second half we didn't get out of our own half.

"(We had) the resolve in defence to counter that and get away with the win so we're delighted really.

"We've had a rest which is a good thing. Their internationals were tired and they chose to pick them and that's their choice and we know that we were the fitter team. "

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder refused to blame tiredness for the result.

Mallinder said: "It was a poor performance. In the first half we never really got off the coach. Sale scored some good tries and took their opportunities.

"In the second half we improved but we were always up against it because we knew we had to score tries.

"We looked like a side who didn't have any cohesiveness out there because we haven't all played together for eight weeks.

"I don't think it is fitness because our lads are fit. We just couldn't string anything together and it was more teamwork today. We need time to gel a little bit and we need to spend more time together. The positive for us is that we will get better.

"It's difficult to get on that front foot and we never did. Our forwards worked hard but credit to Sale because they defended for their lives.

"We've got some important games coming up now. We've lost this game but we're not out.. We've got five games and we're still up in a very strong position and it's down to us. We've just got to put that behind us."

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