SALE Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson had mixed emotions after his side kept their Heineken Champions Cup destiny in their own hands going into the final round of pool matches.

A losing bonus point in their 25-19 defeat to Clermont Auvergne at Stade Marcel Michelin means they can guarantee safe passage into the last 16 by completing a double over Ospreys at the AJ Bell Stadium on Sunday.

They beat the Ospreys 21-13 in Swansea in the opening round and the Welsh region cannot now qualify after losing to Racing 92 at the weekend.

“I can’t fault the effort and application of my players and we came away with a lot of pride and a lot of anger,” said Sanderson, whose side scored tries through Jean-Luc du Preez, Tom Roebuck and Bevan Rodd and had another from Will Cliff disallowed by the TMO.

“I feel like we nearly won it. Anyone coming here and taking a losing bonus point would normally be happy, but every point matters in this tournament and we were better than what we came away with.

“I feel frustrated allied with a sense of pride because we didn’t give an inch physically. We stuck to the game plan in the first half and looked dangerous.

“Now we know what we’ve got to do to go through and that’s beat Ospreys at home. We are getting there and we are starting to gel.

“We’ll go home, lick our wounds and start building for next weekend. We are better than the scoreline indicated in Clermont and if we keep applying ourselves, and keep building, the results will start to turn our way.”

Two late penalties from former France scrum-half Morgan Parra clinched the four points for Clermont and enabled them to end a run of four successive home defeats in the Champions Cup. They now have to go to Ulster in the last round to try to clinch their place in the knockout stages.