Sale Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson was left exasperated after his side picked up another red card during their Gallagher Premiership clash with Gloucester.
Fly-half Robert du Preez was sent off in the 23rd minute for a tip tackle on Gloucester’s Val Rapava-Ruskin at the AJ Bell stadium, but Sale managed to claim a three-point win despite playing most of the game with 14 men.
Despite the win, Sanderson was far from impressed with his side’s lack of discipline, telling PA Media that he is at a loss as to what do to over the high number of cards his side have been receiving.
Final whistle at the AJ Bell and @SaleSharksRugby have a well-earned win 🦈
Despite being a man down, the home side battled past a spirited @gloucesterrugby to keep up their push for the semi-finals 👊
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) April 17, 2021
‘We’re going to get caught out at some point’
“It [discipline] is addressed, constantly addressed, through our behaviours, through an awareness. The only other thing is to start fining the lads and that’s not the way forwards. Any discipline has got to be self-discipline,” Sanderson said.
“We’re going to get caught out at some point, it does need to improve. I thought the discipline generally was good (the penalty count was 13-9 against Gloucester) but it’s the yellow and red cards you are talking about.
“We are such a physical team, a big, upright team, and we tend to give a lot of shots around the neck. This was slightly different in that it was a tip-tackle from Rob du Preez, who us not a dirty player, but it is what it is.
“I’m fed up of calling refs, saying ‘that was hard luck’, as it’s out of your control. You can’t control that, so otherwise you end up being quite a bitter old man if you are blaming the refs for penalties and your own ill-discipline.”
Premiership title aspirations
Sale are currently in third place in the table and look set to appear in the play-offs for the first time since they won the Premiership title back in 2005.
The Sharks came agonisingly close to qualifying for the play-offs last season, but ultimately missed out after their final game of the season against Worcester Warriors was cancelled after a number of their players tested positive.
MATCH ACTION 📸
— Sale Sharks 🦈 (@SaleSharksRugby) April 17, 2021
The Greater Manchester-based side have title aspirations this year, but ill-discipline against the likes of Bristol Bears or Exeter Chiefs in the play-offs would likely scupper their chances of victory.
Sale have beaten both those sides already this season, and will be confident that they can do so again if they manage to keep 15 of their players on the pitch.