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Match Reaction: Bristol Rugby 13 Sale Sharks 31

Bristol have now lost seven in a row on their return to Aviva Premiership Rugby, but director of rugby Andy Robinson is adamant his side will stop the rot soon enough.

The West Country outfit slipped to a 31-13 defeat at Ashton Gate on Sunday to Sale Sharks, who climbed to fifth in the table with the victory.

The Sharks ran in five tries in all, Paolo Odogwu, Mike Haley, Byron McGuigan, Eifion Lewis-Roberts and Tom Curry all crossing in the victory.

This was the first meeting between the two sides since 2009 and defeat means Bristol stay rooted to the foot of the table – seven points adrift of Worcester Warriors in 11th.

But Robinson is adamant his side can turn the tables soon enough.

“I feel for the supporters,” said Robinson. “We’re in a slight hole. We want to run the ball back, but our efficiency hasn’t been good enough, so we’re looking to go to a tactical kicking game – and our kicking wasn’t good enough. So we get slightly lost and frustrated in what we’re trying to do.

“This is solvable, and I’m very confident we can achieve that. But the rhythm of our game is certainly not there currently.

“There’s a lot we’ve got to be disappointed about. It can be turned around, but it’s making sure we can perform for 80 minutes and not just that 25.

“You’ve got to live for the day, haven’t you? And while there will be anger, frustration and huge disappointment, life is for living and you’ve got to enjoy what you do.

“We’ve got to understand the position we knew we would be in. We’re only a third of the way through the season; there’s a long, long way to go. We’re here to fight and perform, and we keep challenging.”

Bristol did claim a late consolation score from David Lemi – the Samoan winger was one of the few bright spots on a tough day at Ashton Gate.

And Robinson – who lost Gavin Henson to a serious shoulder injury early on – admitted afterwards that their home form – where they have now conceded at least four tries in each of the last five games – is becoming a concern.

“That was our worst performance – and that’s the disappointment for everybody,” he added.

“We’ve got to be better defensively. We’ve now got to use the Anglo-Welsh games to see if we can get a victory, which would give a bit of confidence to everybody.

“Some players will get an opportunity in those games, but our focus has got to be on the Bath game and what we do in that game. Our planning will be based around that.”

Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond singled out Haley for praise in the week that he was called up to the England senior squad.

Diamond said: “Mike Haley has the x-factor. He is good under the high ball and is a very illusive runner. He is ungainly looking now and again but he breaks tackles and is difficult to bring down.

“Eddie has brought him into the 33-man squad to have a look at him at the highest level so I am sure Mike won’t let anyone down if he gets a chance.

“I don’t expect bonus points in this competition. If you get them, it is a bonus. We took a couple of head knocks early doors but from this Monday, we are picking from a full-strength squad with everyone back from injury.”

 

Bristol: Williams; Edwards, Hurrell, Henson (Tovey 12), Lemi; Geraghty, Cliff (Williams 72); Traynor (Tonga’uiha 69), Brooker (Hawkins 62), Perenise (Cortes 56), Phillips (Evans 41), Sorenson, Eadie, Fisher, Crane (Lam 68 (Nemsadze 79))

Sale Sharks: Haley; McGuigan, Addison (Bedlow 10), Leota, Odogwu; James (Mugford 72), Stringer (Phillips 69); Harrison (Mujati 54), Briggs, Aulika (Lewis-Roberts 54), Evans (Mills 59), Ostrikov, Neild (Curry 69), Lund (Seymour 9), Beaumont

 

SCORERS

Bristol

Tries: Lemi
Conversion: Geraghty
Penalties: Geraghty 2

Sale Sharks
Tries: Odogwu, Haley, McGuigan, Lewis-Roberts, Curry
Conversions: McGuigan 2, Mugford

Referee: JP Doyle
Attendance: 14,025

 

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