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Sale Sharks 19 London Welsh 29
3:20pm Tuesday 25th September 2012 in Sport
THERE’S no hiding place for Sale Sharks in the Aviva Premiership table – they occupy bottom place after four defeats.
Last Friday, the chance to record their first victory of the season had virtually evaporated within the first 10 minutes, by which time the Welsh were 13-nil ahead.
The unimaginative, one-dimensional reply clearly left the home crowd exasperated. They must have been wondering what has happened to the swashbuckling, offloading team of last year? Why does the current side kick the ball away so much, often straight to opponents? Why is the scrum in difficulties, and why are the penalty counts so heavy against them?
London Welsh, playing simple, effective rugby, held a 23-9 half time lead and were able to resist the expected second half riposte.
Sharks relied on battering ram tactics from their forwards, and limited ingenuity from their backs. The Welsh confidently held out against their predictable hosts, sending over a last minute penalty to deny the home side the scant consolation of a losing bonus point.
Former Leeds and Scotland fly half Ross clocked up 19 points during the game, kicking three penalties during the first 40 minutes and converting the close-range forwards’ tries from Mills and Jackson. Three Cipriani penalties were the Sharks’ reply.
Eight minutes into the second half, Ross added a fourth penalty before – finally – the Sharks managed a try. After a spell of forward pressure, the ball found right winger Brady on the ‘opposite’ wing to score just before the hour mark. Replacement kicker Macleod converted, then added a penalty with 10 minutes to go.
Although there was a chance that a converted try would level the scores, this was not to be, and Ross sent over his fifth penalty of the night with the game’s last action, to create the final 10-point margin.
Sharks entered the season with confidence, with pundits expecting them to improve on their sixth position. The club’s worst ever start has caught many people within the game by surprise.
The statistics, like the table, don’t lie: just three tries scored, and 132 points conceded.
Sale Sharks: Miller; Brady, Leota, Tuitupou, Cueto; Cipriani (Macleod, 52), Peel (Cliff,65); Roberts (Harrison,79), Ward, Cobilas (Buckley, 53), Gray, Myall (McKenzie, 60), Easter (Vernon,72), Seymour (capt.), Powell. Reps. not used: Taylor, Uys.