Dan Mugford was the star of the show for Sale Sharks as they beat Harlequins 19-10 for their first Aviva Premiership Rugby win of the season according to director of rugby Steve Diamond.
Mugford was playing Championship rugby for Nottingham a year ago, but kicked four penalties and a conversion for Diamond’s men on his home debut.
Chris Robshaw scored his first Aviva Premiership Rugby try for Quins in over two years, but it was not enough after David Seymour scored from a driving maul.
And Diamond – who lost Danny Cipriani to Wasps at the end of last year – had nothing but praise for Mugford, especially considering he had stepped in at the 11th hour for AJ MacGinty.
“I thought Dan Mugford had an outstanding game, moving up a level. Young Paolo Odogwu on the wing also showed some flashes of potential,” the 48-year-old said.
“We managed to get the win and deny them the bonus point. We learned last year how important that was if you want to get in the top four.
“Dan played really well last week if I’m honest. He missed a kick under great pressure to win us the game, but we’ve encouraged him all week.
“We’ve reminded him we knew he was a good player when we signed him out of the Championship.
“He’s a running 10, but he’s also got a 90 percent kicking rate, and he missed one which cost us the game in the end.
“He didn’t lose us the game, but that kick cost us the game. But today it was five from five, and his distribution was good.”
Quins director of rugby John Kingston was left to rue missed opportunities and ill-discipline as he suffered his first league loss since Conor O’Shea’s departure.
He nevertheless was happy with the way his side stuck in at one of Aviva Premiership Rugby’s toughest grounds.
“At half-time, we’d played into the elements and at 9-7 down I think – though not on the scoreboard – we had to be pretty happy with that, turning around virtually a level game with the winds at our backs. It may not have seemed like it in the second half,” he explained.
“I actually thought the effort and commitment put in by the 14 players was excellent, continuing to defend the line with great intensity, but sadly the opportunities we had we were snatching at. That tended to be where we were most of the evening – what ball we had, we weren’t using.”
Sale Sharks: McGuigan; Addison, James, Leota, Odogwu (Edwards 71); Mugford, Phillips; Lewis-Roberts (Harrison 48), Briggs, Aulika (Longbottom 48), Evans, Mills (Ostrikov 78), Ioane (Neild 2), Seymour, Beaumont (Pearce 71)
Not used: Mitchell, Bedlow
Harlequins: R Chisholm; Yarde, Marchant, Roberts, Visser; N Evans (Jackson 68), Care (Dickson 68); Marler (O Evans 18), Buchanan (Ward 53), Sinckler (J Chisholm 67), Twomey (Collier 61), Horwill, Robshaw, Wallace, Clifford (Luamanu 61)
Not used: Stanley
Penalties: Mugford 4
Referee: Thomas Foley