Livid Sale boss Saint Andre accuses Bristol of cheating

ANGRY Sale boss Philippe Saint Andre accused Bristol of cheating after they condemned his side to a surprise 10-6 defeat at Edgeley Park.

The West Country side remain top of the Guinness Premiership after completing a notable double over the reigning champions, who are now 13 points adrift after going down to a third defeat in 11 days.

Bristol number eight forward Dan Ward-Smith pressed his England claims with the only try of the match on 68 minutes but Saint Andre insisted the score should have been disallowed because of obstruction.

Ward-Smith went over unopposed for the all-important try directly from a scrum five metres from the Sale line, with the Sharks director of rugby arguing that Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe was illegally prevented from making the tackle.

“I feel very sad for the players because it was not a try,” he said. “Their back row kept Lobbe in the scrum by pulling his jersey.

“They did the same thing against Bath last week. It’s cheating. I’m very cross. We spoke to the referee about it before the game.”

Bristol director of rugby Richard Hill defended his side, saying: “It’s certainly not a deliberate policy but everybody tries to push the rules to the limit.

“No side is whiter than white. I would hope my players would do everything they can to gain an advantage.”

Fly-half Daniel Larrachea kicked two penalties to give Sale a 6-3 lead but his indecision failed to get his backline moving and the visitors soaked up pressure from the hard-working Sharks pack to keep their line intact.

Hill admitted he would have settled for a point before the game and remains dumbfounded by his team’s position at the top of the League.

“It’s a bizarre situation,” he said. “We didn’t play well and it was a poor game by both sides.

“It’s unbelievable. We seem to scrap these wins out.

“If you take away the Leicester match, we’ve not conceded a try in our last five games which is where our success has come. It has been a big defensive effort.”

Sale, who went into the game without eight regulars, suffered more injury woes when they lost props Lionel Faure and Stuart Turner with neck injuries and much of the second half was played with uncontested scrums.

The Sharks hopes of retaining their Premiership crown now look remote after just one win in six matches but Saint Andre insists the fight will go on.

“It will be hard now but the spirit in the team is very good,” he said. “I can’t complain about the commitment of the players, who worked hard and gave everything.

“The players deserved more than a point today but we need to keep going. We need some points in the table.”

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