Saint-Andre takes the blame after Sale surrender


Last updated at 20:07 11 May 2008

When the inquest began at Edgeley Park on Saturday, there was anguish, anger

and a dash of indignation. While senior Sale players were questioning their

decision-making, Philippe Saint-Andre was questioning their stomach for the fight. The director of rugby was forced to explain what went wrong to a stunned Brian Kennedy, the Cheshire club's owner, after Sale had selfdestructed with a play-off place all but in their grasp.

Having seen his side lose

their composure to such an

extent that they presented

the lethal London Irish backs

with two of their three tries,

Saint-Andre could not

disguise his feelings.

Repeating a barbed

comment he had uttered

earlier in the season, the

Frenchman said:"Sometimes we think we are

better than we really are."

Then he added: "I didn't

think we were desperate

enough. Maybe I have failed

because there was no

urgency. We were very flat."

Suggesting that his players

were not in the right frame

of mind for such a vital

encounter was a serious

allegation quickly denied by

Sale's England fly half

Charlie Hodgson.

"I think Philippe has been

pretty negative about

training this week, saying

they haven't been good

sessions. The players have

been focused on it and it

wasn't for lack of trying

today," he said.

"It's difficult to take straight

after the game. I don't know

if it is a failure on his part or

on ours, but the players

wanted to win today."

Another thing that cost Sale

a place in the play-offs was

their decision to kick two

second-half penalties to the

corners rather than at the

posts. After a remarkable

day of twists and turns at the

top of the Guinness

Premiership, it became

clear that a losing bonus

point would have been

enough to keep Sale in the

top four. No wonder there

was soul searching.

Saint-Andre insisted that the

gamblewas prompted by

Irish's double sin-binning,

with Richard Thorpe and

James Hudson yellowcarded

in quick succession.

It gave the home side a twoman

advantage up front

that, remarkably, they were

unable to capitalise on.

But Hodgson admitted he

and captain Jason White had

been grappling with regrets

after the match.

"In hindsight, having had a

chat with Whitey, perhaps

we should have gone for

goal and taken the points

when we could," he said.

"But hindsight is a wonderful

thing, isn't it?"

While Hodgson, despite a

sore shoulder, is hoping to

be selected this week in

England's squad for the tour

of New Zealand, he may be

joined by Topsy Ojo. The

Exiles' Tottenham-born

wing enhanced his soaring

reputation with another try,

a 65-metre interception

from a loose 19th-minute

pass by Richard


Seilala Mapusua scored

twice as the visitors proved

yet again that, in dry

conditions, they are a

counter-attacking force

without equal. Although

Chris Bell crossed for the

hosts in injury time, it was

no more than a consolation.

Irish deserved to win,

although it did not bring

Heineken Cup qualification.

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