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Harlequins triumph over Sale

22nd February 2013 21:55

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Ben Botica Harlequinns v London Irish AVP 2012

15 points: Ben Botica

Three tries lead Premiership champions Harlequins to a 30-21 win over Premiership strugglers Sale Sharks on Friday.

Cameron Shepherd's try took Sale into an early lead, but Quins controlled the rest of the half with Tom Williams touching down and Ben Botica adding eight points with the boot.

Botica continued his fine form in the second period with another penalty before converted scores from Easter and Charlie Matthews sealed a fine victory, their 12th in 13 games.

Richie Vernon and Sam Tuitupou scored consolation efforts in the last few minutes for Sale, but the result means they still reside at the bottom of the league.

After securing four wins in succession, the Sharks were handed a further boost when Rob Miller and Dan Braid put pen to paper on new deals.

Although Miller sat out this game, his replacement, former Australia international Shepherd, got the Sharks off to the perfect start.

Just two minutes had elapsed when Quins were turned over in the contact area. Will Cliff then fed Henry Thomas and good hands from Tuitupou and Mark Cueto sent the full-back away.

Danny Cipriani converted impressively from a difficult angle and the league's bottom club led 7-0 but the visitors, in typical fashion, went on the attack.

Jordan Turner-Hall made indents in the Sale defence and, after they infringed at the breakdown, Botica slotted the resultant opportunity.

Despite their fine opening, it was the London-based outfit that began to dominate. Ill discipline at the tackle area was proving costly and Harlequins' Kiwi stand-off added a second from the tee to reduce the arrears further.

Another penalty then forced referee Martin Fox to send Tuitupou to the sin-bin and the away side profited when Williams touched down.

Karl Dickson took advantage of the space left by Cueto, who was lying injured on the ground, and his surging run was finished by the right winger.

Botica was successful with an easy conversion as Quins deservedly led 13-7 at the interval.

The second half continued with the defending Premiership champions controlling proceedings and their fly-half took them nine points clear after another Sharks' indiscretion.

Sale had barely touched the ball throughout the match but a penalty chance allowed them an opportunity to get back into the encounter. However, Cipriani was off target with the attempt.

Harlequins' back-row Maurie Fa'asavalu then received a yellow card for punching Marc Jones, but it was one of Europe's outstanding outfits that were by far the more inventive.

Dickson in particular was causing problems around the fringes and his piece of quick thinking nearly ended in another score. Although the hosts initially held out, a lineout drive saw Easter touch down, Botica converting, to take the score to 23-7.

Further pressure on the home team's line then led to Matthews going over as they crumbled under Quins' sheer power. Vernon and Tuitupou crossed late on as the home side rallied, but it was too little too late.

The scorers:

Sale:
Tries: Shepherd, Vernon, Buckley
Cons: Cipriani 3
Yellow Card: Tuitupou

Harlequins:
Tries: Williams, Easter, Matthews
Cons: Botica 3
Pens: Botica 3
Yellow Card: Fa'asavalu

Sale Sharks: 15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Charlie Amesbury, 13 Jonny Leota, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Will Cliff, 8 James Gaskell, 7 David Seymour (c), 6 Dan Braid, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Eifion Lewis-Roberts, 18 Tony Buckley, 19 Tom Holmes, 20 Richie Vernon, 21 Cillian Willis, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Will Addison.

Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Nick Easter (c), 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Darryl Marfo, 18 Will Collier, 19 Sam Twomey, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Jordan Burns, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 George Lowe.

Referee: Martin Fox

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