Leicester Tigers paid the price for their indiscipline in a five-try defeat at Sale Sharks on Friday evening according to head coach Geordan Murphy.
Tigers got off to a good start and were first on the scoreboard with a Noel Reid penalty on a blustery evening at the AJ Bell Stadium, but were then punished by the home team in a 36-3 victory which took them into second place in the Gallagher Premiership table.
“We didn’t manage the wind well enough in the first half and indiscipline cost us a lot of territory,” said Murphy who also saw Dan Cole and Noel Reid yellow-carded on a tough evening.
“In the first half, going into the wind, they played some good rugby. We gave away 11 penalties which gave them a foothold in our half of the field. We certainly felt we gave them some easy ‘outs’ and they used those penalties to get into our territory and they scored some good tries.
“The final penalty count was 17 or 18 to four and that it makes it difficult to build any momentum.”
Murphy said Tigers would have to “take their medicine” after Marland Yarde completed a hat-trick as Sharks puled away in the second half.
“It’s hugely disappointing,” he added. “But we didn’t deserve anything more.
“We were beaten comprehensively by the better team. Sometimes you have to take your medicine.”
Tigers went into the game without five players on England duty, and with Sione Kalamafoni, Jordan Taufua and Ben White on the injury list, while Jaco Taute was an early injury victim in the North-West.
Murphy, though, had encouraging words for 18-year-old Jack Van Poortvliet after the academy graduate made his Premiership debut after being with the England Under-20s squad in recent weeks.
“Jack did a lot of really good things,” he said. “He will be disappointed that he had a kick blocked for the first try, but that’s life. He will learn his lessons. He is a very young man and he has a lot of rugby to come. I thought in really difficult conditions he did a good job.”
After seeing his side record a sixth win in the first 11 rounds of the season, Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond said: “I thought it was built on the first 30 minutes – we kept ball, we had 70-per-cent possession and they didn’t really have an answer to that.
“We played against the wind really well. The second half was not dis-similar, we just tried not to get frustrated, work field position and get an opportunity to score the bonus point. I’m delighted with the result.”