SALE Sharks director of rugby, Alex Sanderson, accepted his side deserved a bonus-point for their second-half display but was unhappy overall with a 19-12 defeat at Exeter Chiefs.

The hosts head coach, Ali Hepher, hailed his team’s best display of the season as they raced into a 19-0 lead at half time against a shell-shocked Sharks.

But the visitors, whose cause cause was not helped by a number of injuries, with flanker Cameron Neild being carried off early in the second period and Cobus Wiese, Raffi Quirke and Coenie Oosthuizen also making premature exits, at least showed some fight after the interval.

They kept plugging away and were rewarded with tries from Ewan Ashman and Curtis Langdon, plus one AJ MacGinty conversion, as a losing bonus point proved just reward for their second-half efforts.

Sanderson said: “Considering how we pitched up today, I would have taken a bonus point at half-time.

“But you can’t be satisfied with coming away with losing bonus points, or the draw we had last week (against London Irish). We have to be better, and today was a step back in the first half, certainly.

“We had a few changes in the pack and early injuries and a pack with two hookers, and we still looked the better for it. It was pure mentality.

“We said we would measure ourselves by the second half, and we were much more in the fight.

“We will take it, but I’m not happy with it.”

Hepher was naturally pleased with Exeter’s first-half showing which included two Jacques Vermeulen tries on his comeback from a serious hamstring injury, and an Olly Woodburn touchdown, while Joe Simmonds kicked two conversions.

He said: “It was a good Premiership win against a very good side.

“The first half was probably the best stuff we’ve played all season. To hit the ground running in that manner was outstanding. Our energy, our carrying through into holes was all there.”