Munster 19 Sale Sharks 17

DESPITE outscoring their hosts by two tries to one, Sale Sharks fell victim to the deadly boot of Munster’s Jeremy Manning.

Watched by a crowd of 6,100, Kingsley Jones’s team twice took the lead against the Irish province but were pegged back by the New Zealand-born fly half, whose decisive penalty kick went over from 45 metres.

Sharks took the lead after 12 minutes with a try in the corner from centre Chris Bell, converted by captain-for-the-night Charlie Hodgson.

On virtually their first visit to Sharks’ territory, Munster replied with a try from lock Ian Nagle. Manning added the conversion and planted three more penalties between the Musgrave Park posts before half time.

Both sides were far from full strength, and amid the multiple changes made by coaches Tony McGahan and Kingsley Jones it was the visitors who took control, pulling back the score to 14-16 on 58 minutes through a try from full back Nick Macleod, converted by Hodgson.

The Sharks’ number 10 sent over a drop goal five minutes later to put his side ahead, but the final say went to Manning, whose fourth penalty of the evening sealed Munster’s win. Plenty of young players gained valuable competitive experience in readiness for the season ahead.

The Sharks won the Plate Competition in Saturday’s Middlesex Sevens at Twickenham. Having lost narrowly to a ‘Help for Heroes’ team in their first round match, James Wade’s squad overcame Leicester (24-19) and Northampton (26-12) to face Harlequins in the Plate final.

Three early tries set up a 24-12 win. The club’s Pacific island contingent served the side well, and were strongly supported by local youngsters Ed Styles and Jordan Davies.

Also on Saturday afternoon, the club’s latest recruits participated in an Invitation Round Robin Tournament (30 minute games) at Stelfox Avenue.

Many of the youngsters were having their first taste of senior men’s rugby, and acquitted themselves well in a valuable warm-up exercise.

The Academy lads, under 19 years of age, well led by lock Tom Holmes and starring dynamic fly halves Jack Turton and Dorian Jones, won all three of their matches and will surely be challenging their seniors for places in the club’s reserve side in the Guinness ‘A’ League. Results: Kersal Lions 0, Sharks Academy 14; Kersal Cougars 10, Bowdon 12; Kersal Lions 0, Bowdon 7; Sharks Academy 12, Kersal Cougars 5; Bowdon 0, Sharks Academy 17.

Sharks travel to Devon on Saturday for a friendly game against Exeter Chiefs (kick off 3 pm), with the National One pace setters coming back to Edgeley Park on August 28 (7.30 pm) for the return.

With the exception of Andrew Sheridan (on mandatory rest after the Lions tour) and the injured Sean Cox and Kristian Ormsby, director of rugby Kingsley Jones should have a larger squad available for selection for these two final encounters before the Premiership opener against champions Leicester Tigers on September 4 (7.45 p.m.). Tickets: 08444 994994.

* The club is holding an Open Evening at Edgeley Park next Monday from 6 pm until 8.30 pm, with fans invited to view the facilities. Free car parking is available on Booth Street. Club record breakers Steve Hanley and Charlie Hodgson will be signing free copies of a special poster denoting their try and points scoring achievements, and other squad players will be in attendance.