Steve Diamond frustrated by decisions in Sale defeat

Sale fly-half Danny Cipriani is tackled by Montpellier's Fulgence Ouedraogo. Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Sale Sharks' director of rugby Steve Diamond was frustrated with some of referee John Lacey's decisions as they went down 25-19 to Montpellier in the quarterfinals of the European Challenge Cup.

The Manchester outfit scored two tries through Tom Brady and Sam James but were consistently penalised at the breakdown and set-piece.

That allowed the French side's sharp-shooter Benoit Paillaugue to kick them to victory, but Diamond believed his team were harshly treated.

"I thought we coped with their physicality very well, they scored one try which proved our defence was up for it," he said. "They were given long-range penalties for some very dubious decision-making and a yellow card which was not a yellow card in my opinion.

"They stretched the letter of the law. They were all over us (at the breakdown) and they got the advantage there so fair play to them."

Following their first home defeat in a year, Sharks' attentions now switch to Aviva Premiership action where they face Bath next weekend.

Had Sharks defeated Montpellier they would have taken on the West Country side on Wednesday, but the loss means Sale will not have the congestion of a midweek fixture.

Diamond added: "We dust ourselves down and we've got a 10-day turnaround until we play Bath at home. We're a good side and proved it in areas today.

"If we could have cut our error-rate down a little bit we would have stood a chance of winning that game, but that's the way it goes."

Montpellier coach Jake White believes that reaching the semifinals of a European competition represents a step in the right direction for the club.

White said: "Montpellier haven't historically got themselves into these sort of situations so I'm very happy that we can take the next step forward.

"It's knockout rugby now. As much as it would have been nice to score a couple more tries, to get the win was the first prize.

"It's a new group of players, a new group of coaches and what's nice is we can start building something.

"We had a lot to play for. We knew that if we won this game we would get a home semifinal. We haven't got to many semifinals in the first place so to host one in your own town and have your own supporters there is going to be massive."