Saint-André's gain is more pain for Leeds

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The Independent Online

Sale's director of rugby Philippe Saint-André was delighted to see his side secure their first Powergen Cup win of the season when they beat a demoralised Leeds 45-10 on Friday night to give themselves a remote chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.

Saint-André was impressed by his side's hunger and desire to win, and refuted claims that the Sharks, following last week's 34-9 defeat to Newcastle, were not taking the revamped cup competition seriously.

"I am very pleased," he said. "There was a good balance between the forwards and the backs and we scored some good tries. We played especially well without the likes of Andrew Sheridan, Mark Cueto and Charlie Hodgson. We want to win every competition we play in, players and coaches always want to win. I still think it was right to change the team last week as we need to prepare for the international season.

"This is a good competition for my players as it gives them a game and a chance to gain match fitness. It's just a shame that one team has an advantage by playing two home games, but we will go to Llanelli in our final match and try our best to win away."

Daryl Powell, Leeds' head coach, said it was not time for the club to push the panic button after their sixth loss of the season. Powell looked to the positives and selected the promising scrum-half - and try-scorer - Danny Care for special praise.

"I thought our young players played well and Care is going to be some player," he said. "Jordan Crane at No 8 was also outstanding.

"But we conceded 45 points and we are not happy with that. Sale put us under pressure and we obviously have areas to work on. It is a tough road ahead but we can only concentrate on one game at a time and next is a tough away match at Worcester in the Premiership."

Saint-André will watch with interest today as Colin Charvis takes his Newcastle side into battle against the Llanelli Scarlets, with a Millennium Stadium semi-final place standing tantalisingly close for the winners.

And, unlike the vast majority of his Newcastle team-mates, the Wales back-row, who spent nine years playing for Llanelli's nearest rivals, Swansea, knows exactly what to expect from an afternoon out at Stradey Park.

"Stradey Park is a difficult environment to play in, but we will go down there with a positive attitude, and it should be a cracking game if all the players rise to the occasion," Charvis said. "The hope is that nobody gets intimidated and starts playing within themselves, but we have talked about it this week and I have told them what to expect from the crowd down there, so the lads are all ready."

Both Llanelli and Newcastle enjoyed comfortable opening Pool C victories which have raised the stakes for today's encounter.

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