Josh Charnley might have endured a quiet debut, but Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond admitted the Anglo-Welsh Cup victory was all that mattered.
The rugby league convert came on with more than an hour of his side’s 17-13 Anglo-Welsh Cup win over Wasps gone.
Great to get involved tonight. Would like to thank all my family, friends & wigan supporters for making the journey to come watch me 👊🏼
— Joshua Charnley (@Joshuacharnley) November 5, 2016
Tries from Mark Jennings and Sam Bedlow, plus seven points from the boot of the returning Tom Arscott, were enough to see Sale past a dogged Wasps side, whose Guy Thompson and Jacob Umaga tries were in vain.
The win put Sharks temporarily second in Pool 2 of the competition, with Worcester Warriors topping the table after their bonus-point win over Bristol Rugby, and Exeter Chiefs and Ospreys still yet to begin their campaign.
But Diamond was pleased with how his side – a blend of youth and experience – dealt with the challenge of Wasps.
“Well he [Charnley] did nothing, he didn’t get the ball did he, so it wasn’t really a debut was it? He just wore the shirt!” Said the director of rugby.
“It wasn’t the best spectacle but we just needed to win, really.
“Tom put in a good performance. We were going to take him off at 60 but he felt fine, so yeah, he kicked well and I think he only missed one attempt. He received the high ball well and played pretty well.
“The youngsters did really well, too. There were two or three left on the bench but there’s no God-given right to get picked.
“You get an opportunity and you’ve got to take it and I thought that the Curry brothers did that really well tonight.
“Wasps played it similar to us, you’ve got to put some experience in there but you give these lads who are dying for an outing in the first team an opportunity.”
— Wasps (@WaspsRugby) November 4, 2016
Wasps have begun their Aviva Premiership Rugby season with just one loss and six wins, as well as an unbeaten start in the European Rugby Champions Cup, meaning the loss was just Dai Young’s second in ten games, in all competitions.
But, despite the loss, he reserved special praise for 19-year-old back row Jack Willis, with 18-year-old utility back Umaga also impressing.
“I thought Jack Willis played exceptionally well,” said Young. “He looked really busy in terms of his carries and his work in the defensive breakdown.
“I think our two second rows, Will Rowlands and Marcus Garratt, went really well, too. It was good to see them get some game time, also Jacob Umaga who came on at ten.
“It’s a learning curve for them, we had some senior players and some younger academy players, so I think as long as you can learn from your mistakes you’ll be a better player at the end of the day.
“I thought second-half they took the game to us a little bit more and they managed to get the foothold on it whereas we couldn’t, we spilled a lot of ball, but I wouldn’t have thought the conditions hampered us.
“If we’re ill-disciplined around that contact area, they’ll punish us. They’ll kick it into the corners, they’ll catch it, and they’ll drive it.”
Sale Sharks: Arscott, Edwards, Bedlow, Jennings, Ingall, James, Phillips (Mitchell 68), Harrison (Flynn 53), Neild, Mujati, Ostrikov, Reed, B Curry (Nott 58), T Curry, Pearce (Rogerson, 73)
Wasps: James (Umaga 58), Leiua, De Luca (Howe 45), Macken, Armitage, Eastgate, Hampson (Porter 72), Bristow, Cruse (Edgson 58), Swainston (Stuart 58), Garratt (Ehizode 72), Rowlands, Willis, Rieder, Thompson
Tries: Jennings (19), Bedlow (48)
Conversions: Arscott (20, 49)
Penalties: Arscott (55)
Tries: Thompson (35), Umaga (70)
Penalties: Eastgate (15)
Referee: Christophe Ridley