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Montpellier 33 Sale Sharks 18
12:38pm Tuesday 23rd October 2012 in Sport
SALE Sharks knew what to expect at le Stade Yves du Manoir on Sunday, and gained respect in defeat against one of the most powerful packs they’ll meet this season.
Montpellier made 11 changes from the side which appeared at Toulon the previous week, recalling their heavy Argentine presence to face a young, developing English outfit.
Even though the Sharks’ scrum had a difficult afternoon, the side played with invention and spirit. Twice, they were just one point behind their hosts but suffered because of a 10-minute spell during the second half when the home side forced their way through for three tries.
The concession of 21 points proved to be a hammer blow, but the visitors still left with their heads held high.
Mark Cueto scored a try with just three minutes played. His opposite winger Tom Brady raced clear with the ball, which was transferred inside. Danny Cipriani produced a superb diagonal kick for Cueto to score.
Sharks committed their customary share of infringements, many associated with matters at scrumtime, and Montpellier winger Martin Bustos Moyano sent over four penalties before half time. In reply, Rob Miller landed one for a 12-8 half time scoreline.
A further Miller penalty took the points difference to only one after 43 minutes, but between 50 and 60 minutes, Montpellier had made it 33-11. Inspired by their international fly half Francois Tranh-Duc, they ran in three virtually unstoppable tries.
Tranh-Duc scored the first himself, Nagusa blasted through for number two, then Trinh-Duc flicked a ball inside for scrum half Tomas to score. Bustos Moyano converted all three.
Sharks, encouraged by more than 200 noisy followers, continued positively, and it was replacement flanker Richie Vernon who reduced the arrears with seven minutes left after stealing the ball at the rear of a home lineout. Miller converted superbly.
The temperatures in Montpellier and Sale were about equal last weekend, but the sun shone in north west England. Near the Mediterranean coast, the rain was incessant on Sunday, but the team and their fans’ spirits were not unduly dampened. Few English teams win in France, and Sale Sharks played their part in a high-level, entertaining game at a magnificent setting.
Sharks: Miller; Brady, Addison, Jennings (Macleod 71), Cueto (Leota 54); Cipriani, Willis (Fowles 61); Lewis-Roberts (Harrison 54), Ward (Taylor 41), Buckley (Cobilas 54), McKenzie, Myall, Gaskell (Vernon 57), Seymour, capt. (Doyle 61), Easter