The curtain came down on another Aviva Premiership season last weekend at Twickenham when Northampton Saints beat Saracens in extra time. Well done to Northampton and former Sale Sharks Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder for lifting the trophy.
From a Sale Sharks point of view 2013-2014 was a great season following the problems of the previous season. Steve Diamonds men won 12 of the 22 fixtures in the Premiership recording doubles over Gloucester, Worcester, Bath and Wasps. Who will ever forget the win over Northampton at the AJ Bell Stadium in March and the 55-12 win at Exeter on Easter Saturday; the win in Devon secured a top six place and also a place in the new European Champions Cup for next season.
The stats for the season have been released by Stuart framer of SFMS and they make interesting reading. In the discipline department, 7 players were red carded and 166 yellow cards were issued. No Sharks players were red carded and only 9 players received a yellow. This figure was second to Exeter who had 8. Worst offenders with yellows were Gloucester with 22 and Saracens with 20. Gloucester also had three red cards issued.
Among the best accumulators of points was Danny Cipriani who made 18 appearances, scoring 143 points, including a full house (try,dg,pen,conv) at Saracens when Sharks led for most of the game before losing in the final minutes.
Mark Cueto scored 8 tries and was level 4th with Chris Ashton of Saracens. Six of Mark's tries were scored during the first half of games.
Danny Cipriani had a 70% efficiency with his kicks at goal, Joe Ford had 67% and Nick Macleod 61%.
Sharks 55-12 win at Exeter was the best away win of the season in the whole of the Aviva Premiership.
Mark Cueto still leads the way with 86 tries in his career and Nick Macleod will be hoping to break the 500 point barrier in the Premiership next season as he is currently on 445.
Danny Cipriani (99) and Marc Jones (98) will join the list of players who have made 100 Premiership appearances early next season.
No sooner has the season ended but the countdown to 2014-2015 starts. The players are due back in for pre-season training on 20th June and the fixtures for the new season will be released on 4th July.
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Despite trailing by three points at the interval, Sale Sharks European Cup campaign ended at Thomond Park to a Munster side who were desperate to finish on a winning note after failing to qualify for the Quarter Finals.
Sale Sharks' European campaign this season has been a case of what might have been but back-row forward Mark Easter insists he and his teammates can hold their heads high even if it ends without a win.
Danny Cipriani has been called up to the England EPS Squad ahead of this season's Six Nations, and Ross Harrison has been called up for the England Saxons squad for their match against Irish Wolfhounds on Friday 30th January.
Steve Diamond has admitted that the experience of this season's European Rugby Champions Cup has made him and his squad even more determined to finish in the Top Six of the Aviva Premiership and so book their passage into next season's European showpiece.
Sharks were left empty handed after a tremendous effort against Clermont Auvergne in appalling conditions at the AJ Bell Stadium. So close but yet so far in the home games in the competition with Steve Diamond's men running Munster,Saracens and Clermont right to the bell on each game.