Planet Rugby

Sharks struggle to digest Quins

25th January 2008 22:04

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Chris Jones Sale Sharks

Keep Up: Sale star Chris Jones sent a message to the England selectors

Sale Sharks recorded a 20-13 win over Harlequins at Edgeley Park on Friday night, but the Londoners made their star-studded hosts sweat in what was a highly absorbing Guinness Premiership clash.

Not since a 26-25 defeat to Leicester last April have the Sharks lost at home in the Premiership and victory provided the perfect antidote to their recent reverse at London Irish.

The Sharks' efforts drew rich applause from Gerry McCann, who sat alongside Sale owner Brian Kennedy in the directors' box.

Kennedy, a millionaire businessman, has given McCann and his wife Kate financial support in their bid to find their daughter Madeleine, who was last seen in the Algarve in May last year - shortly before her fourth birthday.

A swirling wind and a cabbage patch of a pitch ensured there was precious little free-flowing rugby played on a night when several players were keen to display their qualities ahead of the start of the Six Nations next weekend.

Sharks star Sébastien Chabal, the iconic figure from France's World Cup campaign, was among a host of absentees in the Six Nations squad new coach Marc Lièvremont announced this week.

He responded well to the snub with a typically powerful display, as did team-mate Sébastien Bruno, who was similarly overlooked by Lièvremont, and the superiority of Sale's pack over their opponent's ultimately proved telling.

Chabal led by example and his prodigious leap to win a line-out in the third minute was indicative of his commitment.

It was from a set-piece that gave Sale the field position to set up a driving maul from which lock Chris Jones ploughed his way over.

Charlie Hodgson added the extras but Sale struggled to build on their early momentum and two penalties from opposite number Adrian Jarvis cut the gap to a single point at the break after Hodgson screwed another penalty attempt wide.

Luke McAlister assumed kicking duties from Hodgson in the 52nd minute and he converted a penalty to edge Sale ahead.

Oriol Ripol then capped a sensational counter-attack to seal victory for Sale and heap more misery on the Londoners.

The game was delicately poised at 10-6 in the 53rd minute when the diminutive Spain wing collected Rory Lamont's pass and plunged over in the left corner to finish an excellent break from Mark Cueto.

Hodgson landed the conversion from near the touchline to give Sale breathing space at 17-6 and the Sharks never looked back from there, despite a spirited fightback from the visitors.

The Sharks then saw a score from Lee Thomas chalked off by the video referee, who then awarded Quins a try following a touchdown from replacement Tani Fuga.

Jarvis converted but Hodgson had the final say with a last-minute penalty.

The scorers:

For Sale Sharks:

Tries: Jones, Ripol

Cons: Hodgson 2

Pens: McAlister, Hodgson

For Harlequins:

Try: Fuga

Con: Jarvis

Pens: Jarvis 2

Sale Sharks: 15 Mark Cueto, 14 Rory Lamont, 13 Luke McAlister, 12 Lee Thomas, 11 Oriol Ripol, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Sébastien Chabal, 7 Magnus Lund, 6 Jason White, 5 Dean Schofield, 4 Chris Jones, 3 Stuart Turner, 2 Sébastien Bruno, 1 Andrew Sheridan.

Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Eifion Roberts, 18 Sean Cox, 19 Nathan Bonner Evans, 20 Sililo Martens, 21 Chris Bell, 22 Chris Mayor.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 David Strettle, 13 Hal Luscombe, 12 Tosh Masson, 11 Tom Williams, 10 Adrian Jarvis, 9 Danny Care, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Will Skinner (c), 6 Chris Hala'ufia, 5 Nicolas Spanghero, 4 James Percival, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Ceri Jones.

Replacements: 16 Tani Fuga, 17 John Brooks, 18 George Robson, 19 Paul Volley, 20 Andy Gomarsall, 21 De Wet Barry, 22 Ugo Monye.

Referee: Andrew Small

Touch judges: Steve Terheege, Don Helme

Assessor: Colin High

Television match official: Andrew Turner

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