LONDON Irish Director of Rugby, Declan Kidney, admitted Friday night's 39-0 Gallagher Premiership whitewash at Sale Sharks was was a steep learning curve for his players.

Defences were very much on top in the opening 20 minutes as the match remained deadlocked, with Sean O'Brien particularly excellent on his Exiles debut.

However, his side would soon hand the initiative to Sale.

They had done the hard work, turning over a dangerous Sharks attack but, after shifting the ball wide, an errant pass was intercepted and finished by outside centre Sam James for a 7-0 advantage.

Even though the away side were stout without the ball they were not doing anything with it, but they eventually got an opportunity on the stroke of half-time.

Kidney's men were awarded a penalty and looked to work their way through the middle, but an error allowed the Sharks to attack.

Ben Curry, Will Cliff and Rob Du Preez combined before the fly-half sprinted through and passed to Luke James to score for a 12-point buffer at the break.

After failing to get much possession, the visitors looked to move the ball from deeper in the second half, but it did not work and Sale duly remained in the ascendancy.

Fly-half Du Preez rewarded their dominance by kicking a penalty to extend their lead going into the final quarter.

The hosts then went in search of the tries that would seal the bonus-point and they managed to get one closer as a driving maul ended in hooker Webber touching down from a maul on his 100th appearance for the club.

Irish were now desperate and they overplayed, which led to a mistake and Sam James pounced to give the hosts the full five points.

The Sharks relaxed and finished the encounter with two more scores as Solomona and McGuigan went over.

A reflective Kidney confessed: "We have a lot of younger lads who need to learn to play these types of games. Once we learn, it will put us in a better position.

"Everybody will look at the last 10 or 15 minutes when the scoreline got well away from us, but I'm taking a closer look at the first 50 because, if you get that right, that last 20 becomes a totally different game.

"Sale play a good game of rugby and you have to learn to play the different styles. Sale are able to play that way, that's why they're going so well, and we must learn to play against sides that play that type of game. It's doable but you have to be on the money."