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London Welsh 12 Sale Sharks 52

15 Feb 2015
London Welsh 12 Sale Sharks 52

Tom Arscott scored a pair of tries against his former club to ensure Sale Sharks kept up their interest in the race for the Aviva Premiership Rugby play-off places.

Winless London Welsh got the game’s opening score through Rob Lewis, but two first-half tries from Tommy Taylor were added to by scores from Mike Haley, Will Addison and Arscott to provide a commanding lead.

Arscott grabbed his second shortly after the break, and Mark Cueto and Addison both crossed the whitewash late on to cancel out a consolation effort by Opeti Fonua.

The result leaves Sale in a promising position heading into their key clash with Saracens next week, while Welsh must recover quickly if they are to end a miserable losing run.

The Exiles started brightly in their efforts to record a first win of the season, with Lewis celebrating his 100th appearance for the club by gathering a loose ball inside his own 22 and racing clear to score inside three minutes.

Seb Jewell added the simple extras, but his side were pegged back almost immediately, Sale’s pack producing a powerful shove in the scrum to win the ball against the head and send Haley over in the left corner, Macleod converting from a challenging position.

Another potent drive from the visiting forwards provided the platform for their second try on 14 minutes, Dave Seymour picking and driving before Taylor crashed over to score. Macleod was again on target with the kick.

Welsh looked to redress the deficit following Taylor’s effort, enjoying a period of sustained pressure spearheaded by the devastating Fonua and a couple of attacking lineouts.

But they were made to rue their profligacy when Sale grabbed their third try of the afternoon through Addison, who was the benefactor from some good link-up play between Macleod and Sam Tuitupou in the build up.

Macleod, who was making his 100th Premiership appearance, continued a fine afternoon with the boot to stretch the score to 7-21.

Sharks hooker Taylor had not scored a try since the 2012/13 season before kick-off at the Kassam Stadium, but like London buses, he picked up his second of the game to earn his side a valuable try bonus point inside the first half.

And there was still time before the break for Arscott to finish off an efficient Sale counter-attack following some Welsh pressure in the opposition 22, with the score moving to 7-35 through two more successful Macleod conversions.

To the consternation of the Welsh faithful, the second half started as the first had finished.

Arscott capitalised on a deft chip from Haley to score his second of the day and his fifth against the Exiles this season following a hat-trick in the reverse fixture. The difficult position meant Macleod missed his first kick of the afternoon.

Welsh No.8 Fonua has been a standout performer all season for the Premiership strugglers, and he got his reward for the day by forcing his way over the Sale tryline in the corner to reduce the arrears, although replacement kicker Will Robinson was wayward from the tee.

Despite the deficit, the hosts continued to apply the pressure as time ticked away, although stoic Sale defence denied them any scoring opportunities from several attacking positions.

And unlike the Exiles, the visitors made the most of their chances, with veteran winger Cueto intercepting a wayward pass to run in a try from 70m and replacement fly-half Joe Ford adding the extras.

Addison then went over in the final minute to cap a resounding performance from the Sharks, with Ford’s missed conversion the final act of the game.

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