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Sale through to Challenge Cup semi-finals with win over Connacht

Sale through to Challenge Cup semi-finals with win over Connacht

An AJ MacGinty-inspired Sale Sharks became the first Gallagher Premiership Rugby side to book their place in the Challenge Cup semi-finals with a 20-10 win over Connacht.

Tries from Bryon McGuigan and Denny Solomona were complemented by a perfect kicking record from MacGinty to set up a last four clash with either La Rochelle or Bristol Bears.

A second-half response from Connacht’s Kyle Godwin was not enough to bring the visitors back into the game as they lost their fourth successive Challenge Cup quarter-final.

Connacht ought to have had a try in the first five minutes after Jack Carty intercepted a Faf de Klerk pass near his own 22 and made a 50-metre dash for the Sale try line.

Solomona did brilliantly to get back and make the tackle but with an empty tank Carty was unable to throw a convincing pass to Godwin and the chance went begging.

Carty did start to make amends soon after by knocking over the first penalty of the evening but it was Sale who drew first blood when McGuigan made the most over an overlap and went over in the corner. And MacGinty made it maximum points from a tight angle.

And Sale had another with barely a quarter of an hour played when MacGinty produced a looping miss-pass to find Solomona in space out wide to run to finish off simply. Another successful MacGinty kick made it 14-3.

A further two penalties from the fly-half maintained his perfect record from the tee and opened up a 17-point half-time lead.

The scoring slowed up in the second half but Connacht were handed a man advantage with 20 minutes remaining after James Phillips was sin-binned for a no arms tackle.

Connacht enjoyed a lot more possession in the second half and took eventually got their breakthrough after a powerful drive from Godwin took him over the line and Darragh Leader added two more from the tee.

Both sides struggled to put phases of play together for the final ten minutes with the mountain too steep for Connacht time climb in the end as Sale saw out the game.

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