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

Harlequins Ladies coach savours upcoming Women’s Super Rugby season

Women’s sport is booming according to former Richmond prop and Scotland captain Karen Findlay, who is now relishing the prospect…

Aviva Tackling Numbers programme celebrated at Corporate Engagement Awards

Premiership Rugby and its Aviva Tackling Numbers programme enjoyed not one but two moments in the spotlight at the Corporate…

Corporate Engagement Awards

Lions ready for battle on eve of All Blacks Test

After months of waiting and weeks of build-up, The British & Irish Lions are ready to face the toughest challenge…

Saracens and London Irish to kick off the season at Twickenham

SARACENS and London Irish will help launch the 2017-18 Premiership Rugby season after being chosen as the home sides for…

Ex-England star Susie Appleby excited to lead Gloucester-Hartpury in inaugural Women’s Super Rugby campaign

Former England international Susie Appleby believes it’s an exciting time for women’s rugby as she issues a rallying cry to…

Wasps confirm 2017/18 pre-season schedule

Wasps have today confirmed their 2017/18 pre-season schedule, which will see them face Connacht Rugby and Ulster Rugby, as well…

Wasps celebrate

Quartet sign Academy contracts with Bath Rugby

Bath Rugby is delighted to confirm that Rhys Davies, Wil Partington, Miles Reid, and Kieran Verden have all signed long-term…

Todd Blackadder

Clare Daniels hoping to inspire the next generation of female rugby referees

The first female official in Aviva Premiership Rugby history, Clare Daniels, has urged girls and women to take up officiating…

Luke McLean enthused by London Irish move

Luke McLean is looking to reignite his international career under Italy Head Coach Conor O’Shea following his summer move to…

All Black Francis Saili joins Harlequins

Harlequins is excited to confirm today (Wednesday 21st June) that All Black Francis Saili has joined the Club. Commenting on…

Francis Saili

Bath Rugby sign Phillips from Bristol Rugby

Bath Rugby is pleased to announce the signing of James Phillips, who has joined the Club from Bristol Rugby until…

JamesPhillips1

Nowell gets two tries as Lions see off Chiefs in Hamilton

Exeter Chiefs’ Jack Nowell returned to his sparkling best with two tries for the British & Irish Lions in their…

Nalaga a big coup for Irish says international teammate Tikoirotuma

Explosive wing Napolioni Nalaga can be an big hit in every sense of the word during next season's Aviva Premiership…

Masi and Everard return to Wasps alongside new Academy Manager Jonathan Pendlebury

Wasps are pleased to announce a new Academy structure ahead of the 2017/18 season. The new set-up sees former Yorkshire…

The new Wasps academy coaches

Sale Sharks announce signing of Australia international James O’Connor

Sale Sharks have announced the latest in a wave of world class signings, as they confirm Australian International James O’Connor…

Sale Sharks announce signing of Australia international James O’Connor

Lions prepared for final warm-up before All Blacks Test

After a crucial victory against the Maori All Blacks, the British & Irish Lions are just a single match away…

Wasps sign Paul Doran-Jones and David Langley

Wasps today confirm the signing of props Paul Doran-Jones and David Langley, while loosehead Tom Bristow is confirmed as leaving…

Paul Doran-Jones

Venter integral to Du Plessis opting to join London Irish

Petrus Du Plessis says Brendan Venter was a key factor in his decision to move to London Irish this summer.…

Fight and spirit shone through despite defeat, says England U20 coach Vass

Head coach Ian Vass hailed his England U20 side’s fight and spirit after they were beaten in the World Rugby…