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LV= Cup Final: Harlequins 32 Sale Sharks 14

17 Mar 2013
LV= Cup Final: Harlequins 32 Sale Sharks 14

Two tries in either half saw Harlequins crowned LV= Cup champions with a thrilling 32-14 victory over Sale Sharks at Sixways to add to their ever-increasing trophy cabinet.

Tom Williams and Tom Guest crossed in the first half while Tom Casson and Luke Wallace followed in the second to hand the Aviva Premiership champions their second piece of silverware of the season, having already won the A League title.

The Sharks played their part in an absorbing final but while Quins were clinical, Sale were wasteful and for all their endeavour, the Premiership strugglers could only muster Johnny Leota’s second half score and three Danny Cpriani penalties.

Leota’s 56th-minute try was the last scoring action of the match as the Sharks, despite their 18-point disadvantage, manfully battled to find a way back into the contest.

But Quins kept them at bay, ensuring a sixth straight final win and a seventh win in a row over the Sharks in all competitions.

Strong tackles dominated the opening exchanges, but Harlequins took the game’s first points though Ben Botica’s fifth-minute penalty after Sale were caught offside.

And Harlequins extended their lead in the tenth minute, transferring the ball out wide for Williams to score in the corner, only Botica missed the extras.

In reply, Andy Powell, who was looking dangerous at the base of the scrum for Sale, was stopped ten metres short of the line after a rampaging solo run.

But Sale Sharks then earned their first points of the afternoon through Cipriani’s 16th minute penalty, after Nathan Fowles was tackled illegally by Karl Dickson.

The Sharks continued to apply pressure on the Quins defence, and a flowing counter-attack ended with James Gaskell’s knock-on midway through the first-half, ensuring Sale left their opponents’ half empty-handed again.

And Harlequins punished Sale in the 27th minute, with No.8 Guest peeling away from the scrum to power over the whitewash, with Botica converting.

Sale reduced the deficit in the 31st minute, with Cipriani’s penalty gliding over with the help of the left-hand post.

Within minutes however the Quins had pinned Sale back, with Botica’s long-range penalty sailing through the posts, giving his side a 12-point lead at half-time.

Sale charged out of the blocks in the second-half, with Cipriani’s 41st minute penalty coming at the end of a series of attacking phases.

But Harlequins hit back minutes later with Casson finding a gap in the Sale defence and diving over, with Botica converting.

The reigning Premiership champions were close to a second try in quick succession but hooker Rob Buchanan was held up on the line.

Sale were looking to hit Harlequins on the break, but a period of sustained pressure was ended when Powell knocked-on after a hard tackle.

But Harlequins extended their lead in the 54th minute with Wallace taking the ball from the ruck and bursting over from five metres, with Botica converting.

Sale refused to lie down and responded by switching play to the right wing for Leota to score in the 60th minute, but Cipriani missed the extras.

The Sharks continued to exert pressure on the Quins back-line, but a promising move ended with Nick Macleod knocking-on Cipriani’s wayward pass.

Sale fought valiantly until the end, but were unable to alter the score in the last quarter of an hour, with Harlequins defence holding strong, ensuring they remain on course for the LV= Cup, Aviva Premiership and Heineken Cup treble.

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