WARMER weather, drier pitch – and Sale Sharks ran in six tries to overcome Wasps in the most powerful, compelling game at Edgeley Park this season.
Inspired by the iconic Andy Powell, who threatens to adopt the place in fans’ hearts once held by Sebastien Chabal, the home side roared into action, with Sam Tuitupou following up a great Brady run to score with only seven minutes gone. Nick Macleod converted to make it seven points in as many minutes.
It wouldn’t be the Sharks if they didn’t incur the displeasure of the referee, and they went behind when Daly slotted over three penalties in a seven-minute spell to trail 7-9.
With 21 minutes gone, Peel took advantage of a chargedown to score try number two, Macleod adding the extras. Three minutes later, Powell made his lone error during the match, fumbling the ball and watching as Waldouck kicked ahead to touch down and level the scores.
That was about as good as it got for the visitors, with Tuitupou adding a second try and Macleod chipping in with a penalty and a drop goal for a 25-14 half time scoreline.
Two Daly penalties kept the Sharks in check after the break, but Powell, Leota and Miller had all powered their way over the tryline by the 64 minute mark, the deadly Macleod converting all three for an amazing score of 46-20 with sixteen minutes left.
Whether it was the effect of multiple changes, or perhaps Wasps’ replacement scrum half Simpson had something to prove to the England selectors who’d released him to play, but he ran in a brace of tries within three minutes. The first was after a forward rumble, the second was a scorching run from 35 metres out. Robinson converted both and it was Wasps who ended on the attack, looking for two consolation points. The home crowd went home happy, because their team had secured five half an hour earlier and are placed sixth in the Aviva Premiership.
Sharks travel to Exeter Chiefs on Saturday, a team they’ve never beaten in a competitive encounter. The Chiefs appear to be reliant on the penalty kicking of Ignacio Mieres, which wasn’t enough last Saturday as they went down narrowly to Bath. It would be a ‘good one to win’.
Looking back at Friday’s thriller, Sharks’ Head Coach Tony Hanks said, “It was our most complete display of the season and we took control of our own game. Collectively we were good throughout. It was our first five-point win of the season and a very important one.
“We have been building towards this and it was nice to transfer what we do in training into a game. You spend so much time being critical about what you do that you’ve got to enjoy it when you score tries like tonight.
Messenger Man of the Match – the dynamic Welshman, Andy Powell.