Planet Rugby

Sale close the gap

17th February 2013 17:07

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Henry Thomas of Sale is tackled by Paulica Ion of London Welsh

Sale: Claim crucial victory

Sale Sharks' recent momentum continued as they took the spoils with a 26-25 win over London Welsh at the Kassam Stadium

A Nick Macleod penalty ten minutes from time stole the lead from Welsh, in a game where the lead changed hands several times.

Seemingly doomed only a month ago, Sale are now only one point behind second-bottom London Irish, while Welsh are only one point ahead of the side from Reading.

Welsh had won only once in their last nine games, a home win over Prato in the Amlin Challenge Cup last month, and had lost 28-12 at Leicester Tigers last week.

Sale, meanwhile, were on a good run of form having won their previous three fixtures, and had closed the gap on their fellow relegation candidates with a home win over Exeter Chiefs last weekend.

Danny Cipriani and Alex Davies traded early penalties, and as the first half wore on, Sale indiscretions led to opportunities for the home side - Henson missing a long range penalty, before Davies added two more.

Henson meanwhile, earned his place on the scoresheet after half an hour's play with a well taken kick from half way to stretch the Exiles into a 12-3 lead.

In the final minute of the first period, Sharks took the lead with a good move, ending in Cliff crossing the whitewash, and with Cipriani converting - in addition to his second penalty scored minutes earlier - the Sharks took a one-point lead at the break.

Sale kept that momentum going as the second period started, and Dan Braid scored his second try since signing last month with the conversion sending them 20-12 in front.

The topsy-turvy nature of this game saw Welsh go back in front though, after Davies scored his third penalty, and a converted try from winger Phil Mackenzie game them a 22-20 lead.

Another long-range penalty effort from Henson - this time five metres inside his own half - fell short, before he regained his form from the 22 metre line as the hour mark approached.

Cipriani pulled three points back, before former Sharks hooker Neil Briggs almost haunted his former club, but his drive to over the line was held up.

It was still all to play for as Macleod kicked the winning points, for the visitors to hold on for a dramatic victory, leaving at least three sides above them in the table now looking nervously over their shoulders as the season enters its final phase.

The scorers:

For London Welsh:
Try: MacKenzie
Con: Henson
Pens: Davies 4, Henson 2

For Sale Sharks:
Tries: Braid, Cliff
Cons: Cipriani 2
Pens: Cipriani 3, Macleod

London Welsh: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Phil MacKenzie , 13 Gonzalo Tiesi , 12 Sonny Parker , 11 Nick Scott, 10 Gavin Henson , 9 Alex Davies, 8 Ed Jackson 7 Julio Cabello , 6 Adam Balding, 5 Matt Corker, 4 Jonathan Mills (C), 3 Paulica Ion , 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Franck Montanella.
Replacements: 16 Greg Bateman, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 James Tideswell, 19 Kirill Kulemin, 20 Michael Hills, 21 Tyson Keats, 22 Gordon Ross, 23 Seb Jewell.

Sale Sharks: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Charlie Amesbury, 13 Jonny Leota, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Will Cliff, 8 James Gaskell 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid, 5 Tom Holmes, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Eifion Lewis Roberts, 19 Andy Powell, 20 Richie Vernon, 21 Cillian Willis, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Will Addison

Referee: JP Doyle

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