LONDON Irish suffered another tough day on the road after a 36-7 loss at Sale Sharks.

Irish’s return to the top-flight started confidently with a 39-29 win over Harlequins at Twickenham on the opening weekend of the season.

But Exiles then lost 37-7 at reigning Aviva Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs before crashing to another heavy away defeat last Friday night as Sale eased to their first win.

Now London Irish director of rugby Nick Kennedy is demanding a reaction from his players when they host Northampton Saints at Madejski Stadium this Sunday (3pm ko).

“We will learn from this loss, take it on the chin and move on to next week’s game,” declared Kennedy.

“We’ve got to stick to our plan and keep going as you can’t afford to dwell on things in this league.

“Sale did well and they had good attacking structures as well as having the ability to hold on to the ball for long periods of the game.

“They really stretched us so we weren’t able to get into them to attack for the first half an hour. It was a slow start from us, but also a very good start from Sale and they deserved their win.

“Sale were disappointed from last week and they obviously came out firing. We were slow to start for the second week running, so it’s something we’ll have to address.”

Exiles were on the back foot from the first whistle with AJ MacGinty’s penalty opening the scoring before Ross Harrison’s 14th-minute converted try from a driving lineout extended Sale’s lead.

The hosts pulled further clear four minutes later when Denny Solomona took Faf De Klerk’s neat pass before touching down under the posts, with MacGinty’s conversion making it 17-0.

The Exiles fought back, but came up agonisingly short of the try-line following a strong Ben Franks charge.

To rub salt into the visitors’ wounds, they were then hit on the counter when Solomona picked up the loose ball and ran the length of the pitch to score, with MacGinty adding the extras to put Sale 24-0 ahead at the break.

Irish began to find some rhythm after the restart, but Sale’s defence stood firm under sustained periods of pressure.

And when Blair Cowan received a yellow card for bringing down a maul close to the Irish line, Sale made their extra man count when wing Josh Charnley scorched over the line.

Irish fans were given something to cheer in the form of a penalty try after referee Warne Barnes had lost patience with the hosts, with Halani Aulika sent to the sin-bin.

But the visitors’ hopes of reducing the gap further were dashed when Cowan was red carded for an altercation at the breakdown.

Once again, Sale used their extra man to full effect when centre Max Jennings shook of a series of tackles before crossing the whitewash to seal an impressive win for the Sharks.

Irish: Bell, Lewington, Tikoirotuma, McLean, Ojo, Marshall, McKibbin, Hobbs-Awoyemi, Porecki, Franks (c), Van der Merwe, De Chaves, Coman, Cowan, Treviranus. Replacements: Paice, Elrington, Du Plessis, McNally, Gilsenan, Steele, Tonks, Nalaga.

Referee: Wayne Barnes Attendance: 4,572.