Match Reaction: Ospreys 37 Sale Sharks 36
Steve Diamond admits his side let an LV= Cup semi-final spot slip through their fingers as Sale Sharks suffered a last-gasp defeat to Ospreys in Wales.
The Aviva Premiership outfit needed a bonus point win to guarantee themselves a place in the final four of this season’s LV= Cup.
And after Viliami Fihaki had helped himself to a hat-trick, and Charlie Ingall and Mike Haley had also crossed the whitewash, it looked like they would do exactly that a they led 36-30 with a minute left.
However disaster struck Ospreys winger Aisea Natoga dotted down to complete a treble of his own, and Sam Davies held his nerve with the touchline conversion to lift his side to the narrowest of wins.
And while praising Ospreys for their second-half comeback after Sale had led 28-13 at the interval, Diamond couldn’t help but feel as though his side had missed out on a huge opportunity in Wales.
"I think we probably thought we had the match put to bed at half-time,” Diamond said.
"But fair play to the Ospreys they came out second half and ran everything and probably deserved to win in the end.
"The last four was there for us. It's very disappointing and we will be licking our wounds on the way back to Manchester.
"But it's the first game we have lost in eight weeks so it's not all doom and gloom.
"I was impressed with the way we got four tries in the first half and then got a fifth, but then we went off the boil defensively."
Ospreys went into the clash knowing that their own LV= Cup hopes had long gone for another season.
And while acting backs coach Dan Griffiths was happy to end on a positive note, he admitted there was still plenty of room for improvement.
"We were delighted with the result but not with some elements of the performance,” Griffiths said. “That is the standards we want to set for these young men.
"Our attack can put any side to the sword and when we did get in the right areas we were able to come back from 36-20 down.
"We never questioned the effort and the character and we were delighted with the response after half- time."
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Ospreys: Fussell (Morgan 58), Grabham, Spratt, Jenkins (Beck 49), Natoga, Davies, Habberfield, Smith (Thomas 49), Baldwin, Suter (Rees 57), Peers, Hughes (Parker 42), Allen, Evans (Ellis 51), Baker
Replacements not used: Dwyer, Collier
Sale Sharks: Haley (Baines 75), Mackenzie, Forsyth (Arscott 57), Jennings, Ingall, Ford (Macleod 69), Cliff (Fowles 57), Croall (Harrison 65), Baines (Jones 64), Buckley (Cobilas 65), Mills, Holmes, Easter, Hughes (Seymour 65), Fihaki
Replacements not used: Gaskell
Tries: Natoga 3, Baker
Conversions: Davies 4
Penalties: Davies 3
Tries: Fihaki 3, Ingall, Haley
Conversions: Ford 4
Referee: Craig Evans