Interim boss Paul Deacon admits the mindset of certain players could be an issue at Sale Sharks after he suffered defeat in his first Premiership game in charge with a 26-23 loss to Wasps.
Deacon, who took over from Steve Diamond at the beginning of the month, had suffered consecutive defeats in Europe before this contest and tries from Charlie Atkinson and Tom Cruse at AJ Bell Stadium saw his winless run continue.
Marland Yarde scored his 50th Premiership try as he dotted down twice but it was not enough to take the win as Sale remain fourth in the table, and Deacon questioned the mental strength of some of his side’s stars following the defeat.
Deacon admitted: “Inconsistency has hit us again. It was a really poor second-half performance from us and this is what happens.
“There were too many unforced errors out there. That’s uncharacteristic I think from this squad, but that’s what has cost us the game in the end.
“There are definitely some things out there that we need to fix. Individually the lads need to improve, but they know that.
“There also seems to be an issue with mindset with some of them. Some of the decision-making isn’t always there, and wasn’t again today, and we do need to be a bit more clinical when we’re on top.
“Maybe it’s more of the mental side that we need to look a bit closer into things, but we’ll keep going and working hard.”
The hosts had led 10-3 at the break but Wasps fought back in the second period, with Atkinson and Cruse both finishing well to earn a crucial second win of the league campaign for Lee Blackett’s side.
🐝 Wasps held on to seal vital win at Sale Sharks. #SALvWAS
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) December 27, 2020
Blackett said: “I’m really pleased with the win. I’d just given the players seven days off as we were looking at a nine-day turnaround, so that was a massive gamble.
“A huge pat on the back to all the players, especially given their second-half performance. The lads were excellent.
“If Sale had scored first in the second half the outcome might have been a bit different. We would have been looking at a real uphill battle if that had happened.”
The win was marred by a serious-looking injury to Zach Kibirige, who was carried off late on, but Blackett offered some encouraging words about his recovery following the game.
“I’ve spoken to Zach and he seems OK,” Blackett added.
“He’s still on the bed, but I would reckon that within a couple of hours he should be fine, all being well.
“He was knocked out cold, and that’s never nice for anyone to see. But all the early indications point towards a good recovery, so of course everyone is happy about that.”