Steve Diamond’s message for Sale Sharks has been to keep it simple and after back-to-back Aviva Premiership Rugby victories, skipper Dan Braid insists less is most definitely more.
Jekyll & Hyde best sums up Sharks’ opening to the season, with wins over Wasps and London Welsh quickly followed by heavy defeats to Saracens and Northampton Saints.
But something has clearly clicked since Aviva Premiership Rugby returned from its LV= Cup window, after backing up a dominant performance over London Irish with their first victory in eight goes against Harlequins.
Those results have shunted Sale back into the chasing pack as just two points separate Diamond’s men, Leicester Tigers, Wasps and Quins in mid-table.
A third win in three up at Newcastle Falcons this weekend would really set tongues wagging – and Braid says their upturn in form has been a case of getting back to basics.
“We’ve really fronted up in two games and dominated sides physically,” said Braid, who scored the winning try against Quins. “We really regrouped over two weeks in the LV=Cup and fixed our set pieces.
“Dimes (Diamond) has simplified things again and our scrum’s come good, with our lineout we know what we’re doing but it’s just about executing our throw. It’s about doing the simple things well.
“We came under a little bit more pressure against a smart team like Harlequins but we managed it and I think our attitude and our defence in that game really got us through.
“This block of three, we’ve really targeted this knowing that we needed to get the wins here. At least two out of three.
“You want to perform in every game that you play in, with the two European games, you can really lose some confidence if you don’t go out well and perform in those games. So we’ve got to make sure that we front up there.
“But we sat down at the start of the season and said the Premiership really is our focus and that’s what we want to do well in. This Christmas period is massive, just one away game and then two home games that we really need to win.”
Though Sale’s recipe may be simple Danny Cipriani has been the mystery ingredient from fly-half, with England choosing not to call upon his services this autumn.
And Braid believes that while the 27-year-old’s continued presence at the AJ Bell is England’s loss, it is ultimately his side’s gain.
He added: “It’s unfortunate for Cips that he hasn’t been picked and put in there because I think in that structure and in that team he could offer a lot. But to have him here playing so well and driving the game is massive.
“Mike Haley’s come in and with Luke McLean being away he’s really gone well at full-back. Will Cliff’s really stepped up at half back as well which creates competition in the positions.”
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