Sale 16-18 Exeter – Diamond bemoans individual errors
Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond refused to criticise the three yellow cards shown to the Sharks during the 18-16 home defeat by Exeter, instead choosing to issue a stark warning to his side.
Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson kicked all of the visitors' points as opposite number Danny Cipriani weighed in with three penalties and a conversion to Mark Cueto's late try.
It meant Sale rescued a valuable losing bonus point from the match which saw them hampered after referee Wayne Barnes showed yellow cards to tighthead Vadim Cobilas, hooker Tommy Taylor and lock Kirill Kulemin in the first half.
However, Diamond hailed Barnes' performance and chose to place the blame firmly on his players, after their indiscipline made them their own worst enemies.
"The referee had a good game and didn't get any help from his assistants. He was right on the yellow cards," Diamond said.
"An away win in the Premiership is a rare thing and they (Exeter) did well.
"They are a good side. They came and played a methodical game and played well and built the score line up. We reacted with ill discipline.
"At half-time we thought we could turn it around with a couple off opportunities we couldn't take but in the end we got a bonus point."
Cobilas was shown a yellow card for repeated infringements at the ruck midway through the first half while Taylor was sin-binned following a brief melee.
Kulemin joined him before the break after diving over a ruck, leaving Sale to start the second half with just 13 men.
Diamond suggested he would not stand for such careless play.
He said: "It's the foolish incidents, it's individual errors tonight that cost us the game.
"Fortunately we've got a fit squad so people who offend like that won't be picked."
Exeter head coach Rob Baxter, meanwhile, was satisfied with the result which saw his side earn their fifth win in the league campaign and consolidate their grip on fourth place in the overall standings.
"It was a very important away win in the Premiership for us," Baxter said.
"We showed a lot of good qualities today.
"I enjoy watching us when we get on the front foot but it's also satisfying to watch the boys stand and fight. The fixture could have slipped away from us like last year but we handled it a lot better."
In a game marred by ill discipline, not just in the form of yellow cards but from the penalties conceded which allowed Steenson to shine, Baxter admitted that was the difference between the two sides.
"Ultimately the decisive factor was that we held our discipline," he said.
"It was a bit of a kicking battle and we shaded the scoreline and we probably shaded that battle."