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Premiership Rugby

Sharks edge code clash with league neighbours

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

The first half was played to rugby union rules, with a hybrid scoring system seeing five points awarded for a try, and two for a penalty, but at St Helens' Knowsley Road ground, the home crowd did not have an awful lot to cheer about as the Sharks piled on the pressure and raced to a 41-0 half-time lead.

Sharks included former league stars Jason Robinson and Apollo Perelini in their line-up, but like Saints, failed to manage a single try in the opposition's rugby league code half during a match some cynics had described as a freakshow, but which in fairness to the critics was not that far wide of the mark.

It certainly established that despite increasing numbers of cross-code players, the integral differences to the games remain, although the sizable 12,000 strong crowd showed that such carnival attractions can at least put bums on seats.

Sharks' former England wing Steve Hanley scored a pair of tries, although having trained with St Helens in the recent past, could lay claim to knowing a few league tricks of his own.

Team-mate Phil Davies also touched down twice, while there were single scores for Dean Schofield, Mark Cueto and Stuart Turner.

In the league half, Saints understandably dominated, scoring tries through Ade Gardner (2), Steve Maden, Paul Newlove, Chris Joynt and John Kirkpatrick.

After the game, Sale coach Jim Mallinder conceded his specially-devised tactics for the occasion were a "little bit boring."

"Driving line-outs and lots of mauling is not normally the way we play but we knew that it would create the most effect for us," he said.

Meanwhile, Saints coach Ian Millward said: "There were a lot of things we would have liked to have done in union but we didn't have the ball. If we could have a long preparation we could be a very successful team in rugby union, but thankfully we play rugby league.

"How boring was that when you just get the ball and stick it up your arse and walk down the field?

"There were a few times when I had to set my alarm clock."

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