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- European Rugby Champions Cup
- Pool 1
- 24th Jan 2009
- KO 15:35
- Ground: Edgeley Park
- Att: 7,466
Saint-Andre backs Peel
Sharks boss buoys scrum-half after Six Nations omission
Sale director of rugby Philippe Saint-Andre was quick to sing the praises of Dwayne Peel after the scrum-half scored a try in his side's 26-17 Heineken Cup win against Clermont Auvergne.
Peel was controversially left out of Wales' Six Nations squad by head coach Warren Gatland at the start of the week.
Saint-Andre admitted the former Llanelli Scarlets star took that announcement hard, but Peel issued a strong riposte with a sparkling performance in a match which saw Sale run in three tries in total.
"He was very low at the beginning of the week but he knows that the best way to respond was to show them today," the Frenchman said.
"He played very well. He was very good in defence and did a lot of work. He scored a good try and showed that he could have done a job for the Six Nations.
"But I will have Richard Wigglesworth and Dwayne Peel next week so, in a selfish way, it is not too bad."
He also disputed the reason given for the omission of the 64-times capped Peel, adding: "It is better to tell us why he is not picked and not to say it is because he does not play enough with us because that is not true."
Saint-Andre, who is leaving the Guinness Premiership club at the end of the season to be replaced current head coach Kingsley Jones, also refused to speculate on his own future.
He added: "I am very focused to finish well in the Guinness Premiership.
"If we can win next week at Worcester, we can be in the top two after 12 games so this is not a problem.
"And now I don't have a problem with this because it is Kingsley who comes in every morning with all the worry!"
Wing Oriol Ripol and number eight David Tait scored Sale's other tries, while centre Thomas Combezou and wing Napolioni Nalaga went over for Clermont.
The victory competed a double for Sale over Clermont in the competition and was particularly welcome after their 37-14 mauling in Munster last weekend.
It also ended any chance the French side had of reaching into the quarter-finals through the back door as a best runner-up.
Clermont head coach Vernon Cotter reflected on the defeat and said his side would come back stronger in the future.
"I thought we got our hands on the ball often enough and led for the better part of the game. They played the better rugby in the second half," he said.
"The match slipped away from us and Sale played stronger. The most important thing was the way we played and I think we will go away reasonably satisfied with what we wanted to do.
"There are things we can and can't control. We tried to play with good intention."