Fixtures - Top Bar

Match Report: Sale Sharks 19 Montpellier 25

Sale Sharks’ unbeaten home record this season was broken by French high-flyers Montpellier as Benoit Paillaugue’s boot proved the Aviva Premiership Rugby side’s downfall in the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

Sale entered the break 11-10 to the good through Tom Brady’s try and the boot of Danny Cipriani, after Paul Willemse’s pushover effort delivered on a promising Montpellier start.

Ultimately, this game was to be decided on the kicking tee and veteran scrum-half Paillaugue completed his haul of six penalties to push the visitors out of sight and into the semi-finals

The AJ Bell Stadium was on its feet after Sam James’ superb finish but Sale had left too much to do.

Montpellier travelled to Sale having bagged 27 points from their last six matches in the Top 14 – a record that any team in Europe would be proud of.

But Sharks could also boast of the fact that they are the only team in Europe to remain unbeaten at home in all competitions this season and the spirit that has got them there showed in the first half.

Indeed, they had to weather the early Montpellier storm after the away side won a turnover penalty and probed for weak spots deep in Sale’s own half.

The breakthrough never came and instead, Cipriani smashed the first three points onto the board after a Montpellier indiscretion at the ruck.

Five minutes later and the Top 14 contenders were ahead through a big push that saw Willemse surge through, and Paillaugue’s conversion improving the lead to four points.

With Francois Steyn at the controls, Sale – who approached the game off the back of victory over London Irish in Aviva Premiership Rugby – were on the backfoot again but this time nothing came of the attack.

That stop was to prove hugely important as Sharks were the beneficiaries of the next score. Unsurprisingly Cipriani was at the fulcrum sucking defenders in while combining with Nev Edwards.

And the finish was not bad either as  Brady needed to muscle his way over with a number of bodies on his back to compete the job.

Cipriani’s conversion landed inches wide though with the momentum shifted, Sale would take a slender lead into half-time.

A five-metre lineout – after Anthony Tuitavake caught Edwards high – broke down, but in the 33rd minute Cipriani spliced the uprights when another penalty came his way.

Sale were then made to repel a maul after Montpellier opted to go for the corner and neither could the French side take advantage of a kickable penalty when TJ Ioane was pinged for a no-arms tackle.

But the 11-10 lead lasted just five minutes into the second half as the Montpellier set-piece continued to fire and this time Paillaugue’s penalty sneaked over the posts.

Replacement prop Eifion Lewis-Roberts then presented another opportunity for Paillaugue and with another swing of his boot, improved Montpellier’s lead to 16-11.

Sharks were certainly not out of it and the half-hour mark threatened to be a turning point – Montpellier lock Thibault Privat shown a yellow and Cipriani reducing the arrears to two.

However, indiscipline was to creep into Sale ranks as Paillaugue struck his fourth penalty of the night before Neil Briggs was sent to the sin bin within moments of coming on.

The reliable Paillaugue sent another penalty over the posts and now two scores apart at 22-14 with ten minutes to go, it looked like the end of Sale’s challenge.

Paillaugue added yet another three-pointer before stardust from James, a chip-and-chase try, gave Sale a glimmer of hope.

Cipriani’s conversion missed meant there were six points still in it with two minutes to go, and Sale fell short of the comeback.

Sale: Haley; Brady, James Leota (Jennings 77), Edwards; Cipriani, Stringer; Harrison (Lewis-Roberts 53), Taylor (Briggs 66), Cobilas (Mujati 61); Evans, Ostrikov (Mills 68); Neild, Lund (Seymour 12), Ioane.
Replacements: Mitchell, Ford

Montpellier: Mogg (Floch 66); Nagusa, Tuitavke (Ebersohn 61), Steyn, Fall; Lucas, Paillaugue; Nariashvili (Watremez 53), B Du Plessis (Ivaldi 71), J Du Plessis (Kubriashvili 53); Willemse, Privat (Watchou 71); Ouedraogo, Liebenberg (Galletier 57), Qera
Replacements: Wright

Sale Sharks
Tries: Brady, James
Penalties: Cipriani 3

Montpellier
Tries: Willemse
Conversion: Paillaugue
Penalties: Paillaugue 6

 

Latest News

Aviva Premiership Rugby European wrap: Saracens and Gloucester Rugby celebrate Cup finals

Saracens and Gloucester Rugby are both celebrating places in this season’s European Rugby finals after the Aviva Premiership Rugby sides…

Match Reaction: La Rochelle 14 Gloucester Rugby 16

Gloucester Rugby director of rugby David Humphreys hailed his side’s ‘unbelievable effort’ as they produced a stirring defensive display to…

Match Reaction: Munster 10 Saracens 26

Mark McCall hailed Saracens’ amazing defence after they withstood a first-half assault against Munster and emerged victorious to book a…

Match Report: La Rochelle 14 Gloucester Rugby 16

Billy Burns scored all of Gloucester Rugby’s points and the Cherry & Whites produced an impressive defensive display to down…

Match Report: Munster 10 Saracens 26

Mako Vunipola and Chris Wyles scored vital tries as Saracens booked their place in the European Champions Cup final with…

Saracens ready for titanic Munster challenge

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall is expecting little sign of weakness from Munster when the two sides clash in…

Sell-out crowds confirmed for Champions Cup semi-finals

The semi-finals of the European Rugby Champions Cup will be played in front of sell-out crowds in Dublin and Lyon…

Sell-out crowds confirmed for Champions Cup semi-finals

England name squad for World Rugby U20 Championship

England have named their 28-man squad for the World Rugby U20 Championship taking place in Georgia (31 May – 18…

Saracens include Lions picks for Munster showdown

Saracens have named all six of their recently-selected British & Irish Lions for their European Rugby Champions Cup semi-final clash…

Dave Attwood returns for Bath Rugby’s European semi-final

Dave Attwood will make his comeback from injury as Bath Rugby face Stade Francais in the European Rugby Challenge Cup…

Willi Heinz and Greig Laidlaw return for Gloucester Rugby’s European semi-final

Gloucester Rugby welcome back scrum-halves Willi Heinz and Greig Laidlaw to the matchday squad as they make five changes to…

Archie White re-signs as Josh McNulty joins Harlequins

Harlequins is excited to announce today (Friday 21st April) that second year Academy Member Archie White has re-signed, while Gloucester…

Archie White

Saracens trio react to England call-ups – Nathan Earle, Nick Isiekwe & Alex Lozowski reaction

Three of Saracens brightest talents could make their international debut this summer, with Nathan Earle joining fellow teammates Alex Lozowski…

Saracens trio react to England call-ups - Nathan Earle, Nick Isiekwe & Alex Lozowski reaction

Jamie George: In-form Owen Farrell can fire Saracens to Aviva Premiership Rugby final once again

Jamie George has every confidence that Owen Farrell can inspire Saracens to go all the way to another Aviva Premiership…

Eddie Jones announces England squad for Argentina tour

Eddie Jones has announced a 31-man squad for England’s two-Test tour to Argentina in June. Dylan Hartley will captain a…

Dylan Hartley

Social media reacts to Premiership Rugby’s 19 Lions

The rise of social media meant it was a Lions squad announcement unlike any other yesterday as players, clubs and…

Delight for young Cranbrook stars as Land Rover Cup win secures Twickenham trip

Just a stone’s throw from England Rugby HQ, Cranbrook U12s sealed an unforgettable trip to Twickenham next month by triumphing…

Broad Plain youngsters set for Twickenham prize after Land Rover Cup triumph

George Keen and his Broad Plain U11s were left overjoyed thanks to Bristol Rugby as they earned a spot for…

Four Sharks To Tour Argentina With England

Four Sale Sharks players have been named in the England Squad for the two test tour of Argentina in June.…

Four Sharks To Tour Argentina With England