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Match report: Sale Sharks 29 Harlequins 23

05 Mar 2016
Match report: Sale Sharks 29 Harlequins 23

Will Addison’s second-half try ensured Sale Sharks continued their unbeaten run at home and condemned Harlequins to their fifth Aviva Premiership Rugby defeat in six games.

Tim Visser’s try saw Quins – the last side to beat Sale at home – leading 13-9 at the break, but scores from TJ Ioane and Addison in the second half gave the home side the unassailable advantage.

Joe Ford started in place of Danny Cipriani, and slotted four kicks from four for 11 points, before the England international fly-half came on to kick another eight points from the tee, meaning Sam Egerton’s late try was no more than a consolation.

Departing Sharks Danny Cipriani and Tommy Taylor started on the bench as Steve Diamond shook up his starting line-up.

Joe Ford put an early three points on the board for Sale within four minutes of kick-off, as Harlequins conceded at penalty just outside their 22.

In the ninth minute, what looked like an excellent steal by Neil Briggs at the breakdown became an opportunity for Ben Botica to level the scores, as the hooker was penalised for going off his feet.

Sale’s new-look front row got to work in the scrum, twice driving back the Quins pack and giving Ford the chance to kick another three points from the centre of the pitch.

The Quins pack made a drive for the Sale try-line in the 19th minute, pushing the Sale defence backwards, finally being awarded a penalty and kicking for the corner. 

Despite a multi-phase period of pick and drive, the London side couldn’t break the Sharks defence, who were finally rewarded with a penalty and Ford cleared their lines.

Sale finally found their running legs with 15 minutes to play in the first half, rampaging into Harlequins half and winning a third penalty after a high tackle on Briggs, which Ford converted.

Botica brought the Londoners back with three points of their hosts, kicking the penalty awarded after Sale took a man off the ball.

And with less than five minutes to go in the first half, Botica linked up with Visser, who sped down the wing to cross the whitewash for the game’s opening score.

The Sharks began the second half with a renewed positivity, kicking for touch in the corner and driving for the line, before Ford’s attempted a chip to Mike Haley was intercepted. 

The second line out for Sale in the 43rd minute was more successful, as the pack drove for the line and Ioane touched down.

David Seymour’s high tackle on Marland Yarde saw the winger leave the pitch with an injured arm, and gave Botica the chance to level the scores with the resulting penalty.

As the match entered the final quarter, the Sharks were awarded a penalty inside Harlequins’ 22 and Ford’s replacement Cipriani put his side ahead.

A brilliant offload from Sam James in the 62nd minute gave Addison a clear run at the Quins try-line, and despite being brought down by two defenders, the winger touched down beside the posts.

Danny Cipriani kept the Sharks’ match kicking record at 100% as he slotted another penalty with 12 minutes left to play to stretch the lead to 13 points.

There was still time for some late drama, as Quins were awarded a penalty and Botica chose to kick for touch, with Egerton going over from the resulting lineout.

But that was too little, too late for Harlequins, who have now lost four in a row on the road.

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