TOP BAR - Fixtures

Easter and Sale Sharks far from disheartened by European exploits

Sale Sharks’ European campaign this season has been a case of what might have been but back-row forward Mark Easter insists he and his teammates can hold their heads high even if it ends without a win.

The Sharks head to Thomond Park to take on Munster this weekend looking to avoid six defeats from six in a pool that also included Saracens and Clermont Auvergne.

But that table does not tell the complete story for the Sharks who came within a whisker of beating all three of those sides at home.

Only an Ian Keatley drop goal saved Munster at the AJ Bell Stadium, Sarries had to make a last-ditch goalline stand to claim their win while last weekend French powerhouses Clermont were trailing with less than ten minutes to go before Fritz Lee’s try turned it around.

And 32-year-old Easter, who has made ten Aviva Premiership Rugby appearances this season, insists he and his teammates have learned a great deal despite their travails.

“Unfortunately in the last 10-15 minutes we let it slip away a little bit (against Clermont),” he said.

“It was disappointing as we wanted to win one of the home games and we pushed all three big sides pretty close so we take the positives from that.

“You remember the ones (games lost in closing stages) you lose more often but yes we’re always looking for that 80-minute performance. It’s a cliché but it’s really important.

“It’s always disappointing when you’ve been up there for 70 minutes and you lose it in the last ten, but you’ve got to go away and look at the stuff you’re doing well, keep reinforcing that and making sure everyone carries through with it and concentrates throughout the whole game.

“If you take the stats out of it our performances at home have been good and realistically we weren’t going to come top of our pool so we wanted to get experience from it.”

The Sharks can certainly feel hard done by in terms of the pool they were drawn in, indeed the other three sides were three of the four semi-finalists last season.

But Easter insists he would not have it any other way as their attention now turns back to domestic matters and a challenge for the Aviva Premiership Rugby play-offs.

He added: “Anyway our focus now will be the Premiership. We’re looking forward to that challenge and using these weeks to rebuild and get everyone right.

“We want to be playing against the best. We can be proud of our efforts and if we qualify again next year we wouldn’t want to change it because it’s good experience coming back into Premiership competition knowing you’ve been playing the best sides in Europe. That makes this squad stronger and builds you up as a team.

“The Premiership break is also a chance to refresh and everyone’s in the same boat so we’ve just got to keep sharp and train and use this time to refocus. There are guys who play every week so this helps get their minds fresh.”

Get 20 per cent off a limited number of tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2015. Visit http://www.tickethour.co.uk/premierrugby/ to take advantage of this great offer.

Latest News

Joe Launchbury named as Wasps captain for 2017/18

England lock Joe Launchbury continues as Wasps’ captain for the 2017/18 season, having led the side to the Aviva Premiership…

Joe Launchbury

Wasps name team for Connacht clash

Dai Young has named a 27-man squad to take on Connacht Rugby at the Ricoh Arena on Wednesday evening, kick-off…

Defensive display pleases Kennedy

London Irish director of rugby Nick Kennedy was pleased with his side’s defensive display during Friday’s 29-6 victory over Ealing…

Three charities to benefit from Wasps 150th anniversary season

Wasps are proving that charity begins at home as they gear up to mark the club’s 150th anniversary. Dai Young’s…

Wasps celebrate

Temporary replacement period for off-field HIA now fixed at ten minutes

World Rugby has approved an amendment to law making it mandatory for players who undertake an off-field screening under the…

Toby Flood starts for Newcastle Falcons against Rotherham Titans

Toby Flood makes the first start of his second spell at Newcastle Falcons on Saturday when they host Rotherham Titans…

Joe Marler commits to Harlequins until 2021

Harlequins is thrilled to announce today, Friday 18th August, that England and British and Irish Lions prop, Joe Marler, has…

Joe Marler

European fixtures to be released on Tuesday

The fixtures for the 2017/18 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup season will be announced on Tuesday, 22 August at 3.00pm…

Rokoduguni starts for Bath Rugby against Ospreys

Semesa Rokoduguni will make his first appearance of pre-season when Bath Rugby take on Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium on…

Harlequins team to play Jersey Reds

Harlequins has announced the squad to play Jersey Reds in the final match of the 2017/18 pre-season campaign, at The…

Francis Saili

Stringer starts for Worcester Warriors at Birmingham Moseley

Summer signing Peter Stringer will get his first start for Warriors on Friday night as his side take on Birmingham…

London Irish name side for Ealing Trailfinders clash

London Irish have named a 30-man squad for this Friday’s pre-season clash with Ealing Trailfinders at Hazelwood (kick-off 7.30pm). The…

Gloucester Rugby announce line-ups for preseason friendly at Leinster

Gloucester Rugby will give game time to a number of their first team squad in Leinster on Friday evening as…

American rugby players and coaches to get once in a lifetime opportunity

Thirty American rugby players and coaches are being handed the chance of a lifetime to train in England with Premiership…

Stephen Myler: Northampton Saints ready to fight for the title

Stephen Myler is predicting the closest ever Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign and believes his Northampton Saints side will be right…

Sonatane Takulua expecting big things from Newcastle Falcons this season

Sonatane Takulua believes unity and a collective purpose, combined with an improved playing pool, can help propel Newcastle Falcons up…

Sonatane Takulua

Wasps name team for first pre-season fixture against Ulster

Dai Young has named a 26-man squad to take on Ulster Rugby at Kingspan Stadium in the first pre-season fixture…

Anglo-Welsh Cup 2017-18 launched

WORCESTER WARRIORS have the honour of hosting the opening match in this year’s Anglo-Welsh Cup on Friday 3 November, when…

Leicester Tigers win the Anglo Welsh Cup

Ally Hogg pleased by Newcastle Falcons’ early progress

Ally Hogg believes Newcastle Falcons are well set to attack the new Aviva Premiership season after a double dose of…

Ally Hogg