Sale Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson believes his side can take plenty of positives from their 37-27 Champions Cup defeat to Leinster into their upcoming games in the Premiership and Europe.

Sanderson was justifiably proud of his team, which showed 11 changes from the previous week’s win against Stade Francais, as they led 13-3 in Dublin on Saturday thanks to Connor Doherty’s 24th-minute converted score and then finished the game with two closing tries.

Leinster were just too far in front at that stage, with Jamison Gibson-Park, Robbie Henshaw, Ryan Baird and replacement Cian Healy claiming a quartet of second-half tries to establish a flattering 37-13 lead.

Tommy Taylor and replacement Tom Curtis both touched down during a late Sharks flourish, which showed the strength in depth that Sanderson will need heading into Friday’s Premiership showdown with Saracens and on into the new year.

“Proud of them. Proud of how they went at Leinster, despite the doubters,” he said. “Really attacked them. I thought we rattled them in that first half.

“We conceded that try (at the start of the second half) and let them back in. We gave them too much possession in the second half, too much territory, and a 1000-cap international side, which they are, are going to score points.

“We came back again and that shows the resilience of the group. In professional sport a lot of it is about the winning and the losing, but I still feel that we can maintain energy and momentum from that and take it back into the Premiership.”

Sanderson’s opposite number Leo Cullen is content with his lot heading towards Christmas, with his side perched at the top of both their Champions Cup pool and the BKT United Rugby Championship.

Despite the Irish province not firing on all cylinders of late, Cullen said: “(At half-time) it was just about trying to stay composed and not get frustrated.

“We know Sale have a strong kicking game and are very aggressive around the contact area. You can see the energy that they get from the sideline, that’s part of their DNA.

“I thought we started the second half with a hell of a lot better intent, dealt with some of their threats a lot better.

“Got in for some good tries. Disappointed with the way the last sequence of events went, obviously we lose Charlie Ngatai to injury and had already unloaded the bench at that stage.

“Hugo (Keenan) gets binned so we’re down to 13 players. It was a bit scratchy at times for sure, but we’re pleased to get a win in front of a full house.”