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Sale finally come good

14th October 2012 14:48

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Gavin Evans; Richie Vernon sale v blues

Sharks: Bite back to beat Blues

Sale Sharks recorded their first win of the season after recovering from a 12-point defict at half-time to beat the Cardiff Blues 34-33 at the Salford City Stadium.

The hosts looked down and out as they trailed early in the second half after an Alex Cuthbert hat-trick for the Blues, but Sale replacement Danny Cipriani turned the game on its head.

The former England fly-half scored Sale's first try to light the comeback spark and then helped set up two more, as the Sharks ended their six-game losing streak in thrilling fashion.

The Blues showed that they were dangerous from the very start, as Leigh Halfpenny gave Sale notification that the visitors meant business, striking a penalty goal on three minutes from five metres inside his own half.

Sam Warburton left the field with a suspected dislocated finger early on, but his departure didn't unsettle the Blues, as they eventually took control of the game.

Cuthbert opened his account on 16 minutes, put through by Jamie Roberts, adding his second only two minutes later, before getting his third in the closing stages of the first period, as he evaded desperate Sale hands after Marc Breeze had made the hard yards for him.

Sale also had their chances, but a dropped pass by Mark Jennings saw a score go begging. With four first half Nick MacLeod penalties to show for their efforts, Sale had it all to do in the second half.

Halfpenny added a second long range penalty minutes after the restart, just before Bryan Redpath introduced the mercurial Cipriani in place of Nick MacLeod and Cillian Willis for teenage debutant Nathan Fowles.

It was the summer signing from Melbourne who started the comeback, as he touched down six minutes after he entered the field, before the new half-back partnership were involved in the build-up to Jennings' debut try on 64 minutes.

Those tries sandwiched another kick by Halfpenny from within his own half, and with the score at 24-30 going into the final period, it was the home side who were beginning to gain momentum.

Indiscipline in the ruck by Lewis Jones led to him walking for a yellow card with six minutes to play, and in the following move, Tony Buckley drove his way over for a score that was eventually given after French referee Jerome Garces had consulted the TMO.

Rob Miller converted to put the Sharks in front for the first time, and the home support erupted as they realised that their side were on the brink of a first win of the season.

Further penalties from Miller and Halfpenny cancelled each other out as the game ended in a nail-biting finish.

The scorers:

For Sale:
Tries: Buckley, Cipriani, Jennings
Cons: Miller 2
Pens: Macleod 4, Miller

For Cardiff:
Tries: Cuthbert 3
Cons: Halfpenny 3
Pens: Halfpenny 4

Sale: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Mark Jennings, 13 Will Addison, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Nathan Fowles, 8 Andy Powell, 7 David Seymour (c), 6 Richie Vernon, 5 Fraser McKenzie, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Joe Ward, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 James Gaskell, 21 Cillian Willis, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Johnny Leota.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tom James, 10 Ceri Sweeney, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Andries Pretorius (c), 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Lou Reed, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Benoit Bourrust, 2 Marc Breeze, 1 Tafa'ao Filise.
Replacements: 16 Andi Kyriacou, 17 Nathan Trevett, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 James Down, 20 Robin Copeland, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Dan Fish.

Referee: Jérôme Garces (France)

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