Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond believes Danny Cipriani’s happiness in Manchester is translating into thrilling Aviva Premiership Rugby performances, after the fly-half inspired his side to a 14-10 victory over Saracens.
The 27-year-old, who committed his future to the Sharks earlier this week signing a new two-year deal, pulled the strings in the midfield on his return to club duty.
Sale charged into fourth in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table thanks to first-half tries from Sam Tuitupou and Jonathan Mills, before battening down the hatches in the second-half to restrict last year’s finalists to just one score as the clock ticked into the red.
And having claimed their first league win over Saracens since January 2011, Diamond was full of praise for his star man.
“Danny was given a simple question in December,” he said. “He had to tell us by the end of February what he was doing and that was the only discussion we ever had.
“He rung me last week and said he was staying, so I was really delighted. He's a team player and I think he fits into our set-up well, plus he enjoys Manchester.
“His performances have come from his contentedness of living up here. He's ambitious and so are we as a club.”
Cipriani himself added that he was delighted to have finally committed himself to Sale after turning down a lucrative offer from French champions Toulon.
He said: “The thing that swayed it was obviously getting the opportunity to play for England, but you look at the youngsters we have coming through here at Sale and it's exciting.
“It feels like me when I was younger and they're probably the most talented group in the Premiership – there are a good six of them.
“I feel like we're really building something here, and if we add to this squad next season, I think you'll see how powerful we can be.”
Richard Barrington’s late score at least ensured Saracens went home with a bonus point, but boss Mark McCall admitted his men were off-colour in the first half particularly.
And having not been able to break through Sale’s dogged defence until the 79th minute, McCall was grateful for the extra point.
He said: “Overall I'm really disappointed, but especially with that first-half performance.
“Sale were excellent, give them credit for that, but we were off our game in that first half and the two yellow cards didn't help.
“We weren't good enough in the first half but were a lot more professional in the second half.
“They defended brilliantly, though, but it was important to get a bonus point in what is a really competitive league.”
Sale Sharks: Haley, Addison (Arscott 70), Leota, Tuitupou, Cueto, Cipriani, Cusiter, Lewis-Roberts (de Marchi 79), Jones (Taylor 60), Cobilas (Harrison 68), Mills (Easter 79), Hines, Braid (Lund 69), David Seymour, Josh Beaumont.
Replacements not used: Will Cliff, Joe Ford
Saracens: Wyles, Ashton, Bosch (Tompkins 63), Barritt, Strettle (Mordt 66), Goode, Wigglesworth (de Kock 55), Wray, Burger, Joubert (Hankin 55), Hargreaves (Smith 34), Itoje, du Plessis (Figallo 61), George (Sharman 68), Vunipola (Barrington 61).
Tries: Mills, Tuitupou
Conversions: Cipriani 2
Referee: Dean Richards
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