Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond praised his side’s response to conceding a try on the stroke of half-time as they ground out a 21-13 victory at London Irish.

The Sharks controlled the majority of the first half at the Brentford Community Stadium, only to be pegged back off the final play through Curtis Rona’s converted try, which levelled the match at 13-13.

But Diamond’s men bounced back impressively, keeping their hosts pointless after the break, Akker Van Der Merwe having quickly restored their lead.

Diamond said: “We’d said at half-time that we’d only made a couple of errors in that first half and they were in the last minute.

“We just needed to keep getting field position – our line-out didn’t function as well as I’d like, but the scrum was reasonably dominant.

“We got the penalty, Faf (De Klerk) took a quick tap and off we went (for the opening score from Rohan Janse Van Rensburg), so I’m really pleased because London Irish are a good side.

“They’re missing players, like we’re missing players, but they’ll knock a lot of sides over in their fantastic new home.

“There’s a lot being talked at the minute about ‘boring’ kicking, but when Faf joined us three years ago, we said we wanted Faf to play like Faf.

“Obviously, he’ll box-kick occasionally out of our 22, but the reality was there was an opportunity to be taken, Van Rensburg ran well on to it and we were over.”

Sale opened up a 13-3 lead, but Rona was able to level the match following some neat work between Billy Meakes and Paddy Jackson.

Van Der Merwe then crashed over three minutes after the restart and AJ MacGinty’s third penalty ultimately sealed the victory.

The Sharks are next in action in the European Rugby Champions Cup at Toulon on Saturday.