Sale boss Steve Diamond critical of referee after defeat to Worcester

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Sale boss Steve Diamond was critical of the refereeing after his side's five-match winning run in the Aviva Premiership ended in a 31-23 loss at Worcester.

Worcester director of rugby Dean Ryan threatened after his team's narrow home defeat to Bath last weekend to reveal confidential Premiership refereeing data to back up his claims that the Warriors were "the worst refereed side in the Premiership".

But Diamond felt it was the Sharks who were on the wrong end of numerous calls from referee Greg Garner at Sixways on Saturday.

"They've been complaining about referees in the press all week. Dean Ryan has been fantastic in his management of the situation," Diamond said.

"If I had said those things, I would have been fined £5,000 and picked up a 12-week ban, so I didn't expect the referee to give us the rub of the green today."

"We are the most disciplined team in the league but the referee gave seven penalties against them for bringing down driving mauls but there were no yellow cards given."

Diamond did concede, however, that his side had not been at their best. "In the first half, we weren't at the races," he said. "They were hungrier than us and we didn't match it and we made two or three defensive errors."

"In the second half, we were much better and I'm disappointed that we didn't go away with two bonus points."

Sale were 21-8 down at the interval but two tries from Mike Haley and one from Tommy Taylor -- to add to an earlier effort from Dave Seymour -- saw the visitors put Worcester under considerable pressure in the second half.

However, tries from Carl Kirwan, Francois Hougaard and Chris Pennell, along with four penalties and two conversions from Tom Heathcote, ensured the home team had enough points on the board to hang on for a deserved victory.

Ryan said: "We are delighted to get a win over the form team of the Premiership. Apart from the London Irish, our performances haven't been an issue, but we just needed a bit of self-belief to get over the line.

"We've put ourselves in a bit of a fight as we missed three or four chances earlier in the season and today we had one of the tries of the season disallowed for a petty infringement."

Worcester had produced a flowing 80-metre movement which ended with Wynand Olivier crossing, but the try was ruled out as a Worcester hand had secured possession in an earlier set scrum.

South Africa international scrum-half, Hougaard had a splendid debut for Warriors, earning Ryan's praise.

"He only arrived on Monday, but Francois was outstanding today," the Worcester boss said. "He's a class player and his confidence spread through the team."

Sale skipper and England squad member Josh Beaumont was helped from the field due to injury on the final whistle.

"It's a potential shoulder dislocation and we'll have to wait until Monday for a scan to see the extent of the damage," Diamond said.