Planet Rugby

Sale conquer Clermont in France

11th October 2008 15:22

Share:

Chabal wrapped up by Clermont

No charity: Sebastian Chabal is welcomed back to France

Sale Sharks burgled all five points from Clermont in France's sun-baked Auvergne in the Heineken Cup on Saturday, with the 32-15 win rendering their clash with Munster next weekend pivotal to Pool One.

Moments of inspiration were the difference between the teams, with Sale's tries lighting up a tense and tight encounter. Sale scored four tries, Clermont never once looked like scoring one. Tight as it was, Sale always had the edge in attack.

There was a typically probing opening from both teams, with aethetically contrasting techniques. Clermont swung the ball from side to side, relying only on Pierre Mignoni's twinkling toes and Elvis Vermeulen's bullish barging to break the Sale line.

The Sharks played a little tighter, bashing away around the fringes and occasionally testing the back three with some kicks. The intrigue was more for purists than armchair fans, an examination of ELV tactical variations and which would prevail.

Clermont enjoyed most of the possession, but Sale were convincing winners of the breakdown during the first twenty minutes, and they eked out two penalties for going off the feet, which Luke McAlister goaled for a 6-0 lead.

The turning point came right on the 20-minute mark. Dwayne Peel made a scorching break, and found Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe galloping inside in support. Lobbe lobbed it out to David Doherty sprinting down the left wing and Doherty made it home with a metre to spare. McAlister landed a fantastic touchline conversion, and Clermont had 13 points to make up.

Now Clermont opened up. Brock James put some demoralising territorial kicks into the Sale half, which Sale struggled to return. Anthony Floch and Mignoni both made some telling runs, and the forwards lumbered into gear, upping the tempo with som belligerent support.

After one attack with several phases of forward-runs and gain-line breaks, Sale's three-quarters were tempted up offside and James reduced the arrears to ten with a penalty of his own, warming up the hitherto-lukewarm crowd in the process.

James landed another from further out five minutes later - and five before the break - as Sale's scrum began to creak a little, and then missed another right on the half-time whistle as Sale's scrum failed to withstand a monster shove from the yellow-clad pack. The number of Sale injury stoppages in the first half bore testament to the pounding Clermont inflicted as the afternoon wore on, and the seven-point margin looked fragile at the break.

Sale brought on Stuart Turner for Eifion Roberts at the break in an attempt to shore up the scrum, and Peel departed five minutes into the second half, giving Charlie Hodgson a chance to prove himself. Neither change had an immediate impact, with Clermont marching through some thirteen phases before earning a penalty for James to make it 13-9.

But Hodgson's floated pass after a loose Clermont line-out gave Lamont space to run into, and after the Scot had broken two tackles Luke McAlister was on hand to finish off a sucker-punch try, which he once again converted terrifically from the touchline.

Floch dropped a high ball after the restart, and from the scrum Hodgson once again found Lamont down the left, and the Scot so nearly scored a third for his side. Instead it was James who got the next points, as Clermont once again took it through the phases and worked a penalty for the fly-half to convert.

McAlister's brilliant stepping had him clean through with 15 minutes to go, and had the ball gone left at the subsequent breakdown, Sale would have had the numbers to make the game clean and dry. Instead, Stuart Turner dropped himself onto Napolioni Nalaga's body at the tackle, James reduced the arrears to 20-15, and then Hodgson put the restart out on the full, putting his team under more pressure.

As befitting the see-saw nature of the game though, it was Sale who scored next, and wrapped up the result, when Abraham's turnover at a ruck saw Keil clean through down the blind side.

Nobody would have predicted a bonus point try, but James' chip kick from his own 22, was taken by Keil, and one ruck later Mark Cueto was in for the glory down the blind side. Sale will now be rubbing hands for Munster at Edgeley Park next week.

The scorers:

For Clermont:

Pens: James 3

For Sale:

Tries: Doherty, McAlister, Keil, Cueto

Cons: McAlister 3

Pens: McAlister 2

Clermont: 15 Anthony Floch, 14 Napolioni Nalaga, 13 Benoit Baby, 12 Seremaļa Baļ, 11 Julien Malzieu, 10 Brock James, 9 Pierre Mignoni, 8 Elvis Vermeulen (c), 7 Alexandre Audebert, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Thibaut Privat, 4 Julien Pierre, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Mario Ledesma, 1 Laurent Emmanuelli.

Replacements: 16 Mirko Lozupone, 17 Thomas Domingo, 18 Christophe Samson, 19 Emmanuel Etien; 20 John Senio, 21 Pierre-Manuel Garcia, 22 Arnaud Mignardi

Sale: 15 Rory Lamont, 14 Mark Cueto, 13 Luke McAlister, 12 Lee Thomas, 11 David Doherty, 10 Richard Wigglesworth, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Sebastien Chabal, 7 Luke Abrahams, 6 JM Fernandez Lobbe (c), 5 Kristian Ormsby, 4 Chris Jones, 3 Eifion Roberts, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Lionel Faure.

Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Stuart Turner, 18 Jason White, 19 Dean Schofield, 20 Charlie Hodgson, 21 Chris Bell, 22 Rudi Keil.

Referee: Alan Lewis (Ireland)

Touch judges: Eanna O'Dowd (Ireland), Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

Television match official: John Sheehan (Ireland)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens vs NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Preview
London Welsh vs Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Preview
Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs Wasps15:00
Exeter vs Saracens16:30
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Sunday , November 23
Georgia vs JapanGeorgia vs Japan Preview
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South Africa14:30
England vs Australia14:30
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Sunday , November 23
Treviso vs LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Preview
Edinburgh vs Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Preview
Friday , November 28
Munster vs Ulster19:35
Cardiff Blues vs Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs Edinburgh15:00
Leinster vs Ospreys17:15
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Lyon vs Montpellier18:00
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:00
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:00
Toulon vs Clermont Auvergne18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle FalconsBath vs Newcastle Falcons Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Romania 13 - 18 JapanRomania vs Japan Report
France 29 - 26 AustraliaFrance vs Australia Report
Scotland 16 - 24 New ZealandScotland vs New Zealand Report
England 28 - 31 South AfricaEngland vs South Africa Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Exeter828
2Bath828
3Northampton726
4Saracens724
5Wasps820