Record Heineken defeat leaves Mitchell fresh out of excuses

Owen Farrell
Owen Farrell
Have your say

John Mitchell could not hide his disappointment in Toulon as Sale Sharks slumped to their heaviest Heineken Cup defeat.

Toulon ran in nine tries in their Stade Felix Mayol demolition job to humiliate the Sharks 62-0.

Sale have now lost 12 of their 15 games this season and sit last but one in Pool Six, with a trip to Cardiff Arms Park still to come.

Director of rugby Mitchell said: “The team is disappointed, as well as individuals with their own performances.

“I’ve been looking at this group of players ahead of the Christmas period and I certainly know a lot more about some individuals after that performance.

“Some of the characters have been revealed and I don’t have a lot of choice in some positions.

“But we don’t have any regrets - we got what we deserved. Toulon were exceptional.

“All the defensive work we did in the first half took its toll. We were there for 35 minutes but we gave them two soft tries through the same channel and unfortunately against a side like Toulon you can’t afford to do that.

“We were coming here looking to build on the previous performance at home, but that wasn’t achieved and we are very disappointed.”

Toulon were imperious in their performance with Jean-Charles Orioli, Frederic Michalak, Rudi Wulf, David Smith, Joe van Niekerk, Davit Kubriashvili and the Armitage brothers, Steffon and Delon, all touching down for tries.

The big-spending French giants already have one foot in the quarter-finals, with a five-point buffer over Montpellier at the top of their group.

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall hailed his side’s character after they claimed a crucial 19-13 success over Munster at Vicarage Road.

Owen Farrell booted 14 points and David Strettle dived over for the home side’s only try to send Saracens top of a congested Pool One table.

McCall’s men were deserved winners, but had to hold their nerve after losing Will Fraser to the sin-bin midway through the second half.

Munster failed to cash in on his absence as Ronan O’Gara’s two late misses proved costly.

It means last season’s beaten finalists are danger of failing to progress – they are three points adrift of the top in third – but Saracens now have their fate firmly in their own hands ahead of a tough trip to Racing Metro next month.

“Hopefully, this was a bit of a coming of age for us but after four games you want to control your destiny,” said McCall.

“We have to go to Racing Metro and potentially there are more twists and turns to come in this group.

“We played some really good stuff in attack and dug in when we needed to. Our performance had a bit of everything and we showed real character.”

On Saturday, Leicester Tigers coach Richard Cockerill admitted his side had got out of jail after coming from behind to beat Treviso 14-13 in Pool Two.

Trailing by six points in the closing minutes, it looked as though the Aviva Premiership side were heading out of Europe as Treviso got ready to celebrate a famous victory.

However, a series of scrums on the home line led to a penalty try and the subsequent conversion by George Ford ensured the former champions lived to fight another day.

“We’re obviously very relieved because we came away with the win,” Cockerill said. “You have to congratulate Treviso for the way they played. They made us work exceptionally hard. Conversely, you have to congratulate our players for sticking in there and digging in right until the end.”