Saint-André seeks perfection as Sale take a stranglehold

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The Independent Online

Maintaining a 100 per cent record and scoring four tries in a 35-3 crushing of Castres should have left Sale's coach Philippe Saint-André a happy man on Friday night. And he was, but only up to a point.

Tries by Sebastien Chabal, who got two, Jason Robinson and Robert Todd, as well as 15 points from the boot of Charlie Hodgson kept the Sharks on top of Pool One, and a victory against Newport-Gwent Dragons in January should put Sale through to the quarter-finals. But Saint-André insists his men can comfortably improve on Friday's display.

"Before the game I would have taken a win and four tries, but it wasn't our best performance," he said. "We lost a lot of ball in contact and we weren't patient enough but what is good is that we can improve 40 per cent from this. We won but we still have a lot of work to do and that is good."

His opposite number, Laurent Seigne, who admitted his side's campaign is now over, cast doubt on Sale's ambitions to win Europe's élite competition. "They are like an international team but I don't know what will happen when they come up against teams that are equally as strong," he said."They are very well organised and have their own particular style. They are a very complete team but in certain positions, if they have injuries, Philippe may have some problems."

It was a good night, too for Bath, who beat Glasgow 29-10 at Firhill, a much easier win - with a bonus point - than they had achieved the previous Saturday at The Rec. "I have to be satisfied with a bonus point on enemy territory. We knew that Glasgow would take us on physically and I think we coped with them pretty well," said Bath coach Michael Foley.

Glasgow's coach Hugh Campbell admitted his side had been given a lesson in taking chances after the try count went 4-1 against them. He said: "Crucially, we were unable to turn that pressure into points - whereas Bath had that cutting edge."

The Edinburgh Gunners' coach, Todd Blackadder, had to concede his side's Heineken Cup campaign was as good as over after their 35-13 defeat in Toulouse. The Gunners went into the match at Stade Ernest Wallon knowing no Scottish side had ever won in France, but, despite a gutsy display, the pace and power of the cup holders proved too much.

"I'm very disappointed with the performance. We came here to have a real go but we hardly showed our intentions," said Blackadder. "We couldn't get enough ball and when we did get it we couldn't hold on to it." Toulouse coach Guy Noves paid tribute to the visitors' approach. "Edinburgh made it hard for us early on but my team got stronger as the match went on," he said.

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