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Mitchell still on Cipriani's case

Sat, 29 Dec 2012 07:52
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We need him to be at that level every week not just one in three
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Sale Sharks Director of Rugby John Mitchell has called on Danny Cipriani to maintain the form he showed against Worcester Warriors as the flyhalf racked up 18 points in a vital Premiership victory.

Having missed the defeat to London Wasps last weekend, Cipriani showed up well in both attack and defence in the 33-27 success.

Mark Cueto also went over, equalling Steve Hanley's Premiership record, with Richie Gray and James Gaskell getting tries as Sale moved to within a point of London Irish at the bottom of the table.

Mitchell said: "Our start wasn't so good but our ability not to get frustrated got us back into the match and before half-time we were building very good pressure.

"We played some very good football.}

Asked about Cipriani, the Sharks boss said: "Danny Cipriani played well, defensively he showed some improvement.

"However, I'd still like to see him get his shoulders on, I'm sure everyone would.

"He stiffened up defensively, which is what we asked him to do, which is a sign of a player wanting to improve.

"It's not just about him, it's about him playing his role within the team.

"He is a very talented individual, and that was a very good team performance and clearly with a guy of his class we need him to be at that level every week not just one in three.

"It's one response.

"Mark Cueto has been a fantastic servant to Sale Sharks, and you have to admire the guy.

"This year he has probably lost his role in international rugby but what people don't see is the contribution he is adding to a lot of younger players.

"Hopefully he goes on to break the record."

The defeat ended Worcester's hopes of back-to-back Premiership wins for the first time this season but head coach Richard Hill admitted they had been beaten by the better side.

He added: "At least we got one point, so it's not devastating, it's a long trip back but a point is better than nothing.

"Sale deserved it, they were fighting for their Premiership survival and I thought they looked very sharp and did remarkably well on a five-day turnaround to play as well as they did.

"We assisted them greatly by having to play 20 minutes of the game with 14 men, with two sin-bins that didn't help but Sale are a good side.

"Every time I look at Sale, they have quality players and they knew they had to perform with Saracens away next week so I think this was an absolutely vital game for them and they rose to the occasion and played very well, put us under a lot of pressure and deserved the victory.

"We built a nice lead up at 9-0 but then we tried to play inside our ten-metre line and were over committed, giving away penalties and just tactically we were very poor in the first half.

"We knew we were in a real hard fight after we'd given them that confidence at half-time.

"Overall, we can't complain. A very good performance by Sale. One of the best performances I've seen all year."

Sale Chief Executive Steve Diamond, who sat alongside Mitchell at the post-match press conference, believes the battle to avoid the drop will go right down to the wire.

"We've got to try and catch London Irish over the next four or five weeks and we're in no doubt that we're in a dogfight until the last game of the season," Diamond said.

"We're not going to pull ourselves free until the first week of May, I don't think."

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