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Sale hit their stride against Gloucester

26 Sep 2008
Sale hit their stride against Gloucester

Sale became the first side in GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP history to play four successive matches without conceding a try with victory over Gloucester.

Gloucester failed to offer much in the way of an attacking threat, despite fielding the likes of Ryan Lamb, Olly Barkley and Lesley Vainikolo, who looked a pale shadow of the player who used to terrorise Super League defences for Bradford Bulls.

Sale showed far greater potency throughout and Wales scrum-half Dwayne Peel made a key contribution just seconds after coming off the bench in the 49th minute.

Peel, having replaced Richard Wigglesworth, produced an astute offload to usher Chabal over the line from 15 metres with his first touch and wing David Doherty finished off a fine flowing move to add a second score with 10 minutes remaining.

Victory was no more than Sale deserved on a night when Philippe Saint-Andre’s men enhanced their title credentials in style and raised some serious questions marks about Gloucester’s own aspirations.

The Sharks were missing skipper Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe after he failed a fitness test on his injured neck and shoulder, but Luke Abraham proved an able deputy.

The home side needed just two minutes to get off the mark as Luke McAlister landed the first of his two first-half penalties, although five minutes later he missed another from inside his own half.

Sale quickly began to dominate and Charlie Hodgson’s teasing grubber kick down the left exposed Vainikolo’s defensive flaws.

The giant Tongan wing, who struggled all night to make any real impact, missed the loose ball and the lively Doherty hacked forward but narrowly failed to ground the ball.

With McAlister and Hodgson potent forces in Sale’s midfield, the hosts began to create a steady stream of promising attacks.

One such passing sequence in the 22nd minute almost produced a try but Doherty could not take Rory Lamont’s pass in his stride after Hodgson had set the attack in motion.

However, Gloucester slowly began to find their feet and Barkley, playing at inside centre, drew his side level in the 27th minute with his first penalty.

The former Bath favourite then cancelled out McAlister’s second penalty to tie the scores at 6-6 at the break.

Nine minutes after the restart the game burst into life in spectacular fashion.

Wigglesworth, having offered his side little in the way of attacking threat, was replaced at scrum-half by Peel, whose first contribution was to send Chabal galloping forward from around 15 metres out for a try which effectively sealed victory.

McAlister added the extras and although Lamont was sinbinned for a late challenge on replacement Mike Tindall, Lee Thomas gave Sale further breathing space with a well-struck penalty.

Barkley’s third penalty kept the visitors in contention but a scintillating move down Sale’s left flank cut Gloucester to pieces and culminated in Doherty touching down in the corner after excellent work from the impressive McAlister.

Thomas added the extras to leave the majority of a bumper Edgeley park crowd of 9,019 delighted.

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