The Saints headed to the AJ Bell Stadium on the back of a seven-match winning streak in all competitions. But the run came to a shuddering halt against a Sharks outfit who shrugged off two weeks of disappointing results to put in an impressive performance.
Saints had the better of the opening few minutes, but it was Sale who dominated much of the opening half. Danny Cipriani landed a couple of penalties and Eifion Lewis-Roberts had the ball at the end of a powerful maul, but it was to the visitors’ credit that they only conceded the one score despite spending long periods on their own line.
However two more tries after the break killed off the game, and despite Teimana Harrison crashing over from close range Saints could not break down the resolute home defence, and Pisi says that without having four second row forwards the travellers were always going to find it hard.
“It was disappointing for us,” the Samoan told SaintsTV. “We were always going to find it hard coming down here when you lose a lot of boys and Sale were up for the challenge. They stepped it up today and credit to them.
“They played well and got a lot of ball. It’s tough to keep defending when you don’t get a lot of ball.
“We didn’t want to come here and be second best. We’re the champions so everyone has to step up. It was up to us and beat these guys, but it wasn’t to be today.
“It’s a good little kick up the bum for us heading on to the European game next week.”
Saints now have to regroup quickly ahead of next weekend’s important Champions Cup match at the Ospreys, but Pisi believes that the team will be ready for what is an “exciting challenge,” adding: “It’s an opportunity for us to take a step on in the competition and still stay top of our pool ahead of the game against Racing the week after.”
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The Saints return to the Gardens for a crucial European Rugby Champions Cup game against Racing Metro on Saturday, January 24th. Your support will count in what will decide the outcome of Pool 5, so head to www.tinyurl.com/SAI-RAC-1415 to order some of the last few hundred tickets! Use [email protected] to save the admin fees and take the hassle out of your day at the home of the Saints!