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Harlequins put Sale to sword as Smith overshadows Ford

MATCH REPORT: Marcus Smith won the duel between England’s flyhalves in waiting at The Stoop but it was the contribution of Harlequins’ pack that underpinned a 36-3 victory over Sale.

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Quins climb to second in the Premiership after putting the league leaders to the sword with a polished display that produced five tries, two of them scored by Will Joseph.

Smith engineered the 43rd-minute try for Danny Care that propelled his team out of reach and was an influential presence throughout, including off the tee in the form of one penalty and three conversions.

It was a personal triumph for the 24-year-old, who eclipsed England rival George Ford as the two compete for the number 10 jersey made vacant by Owen Farrell’s decision to miss the Six Nations in order to prioritise his mental health.

Smith was given the easier night, however, because of the the work rate and determination of his forwards highlighted by the resolute defending of their line shortly before half-time.

A difficult night for Sale was compounded by the loss of captain Ben Curry to injury and there were few positives on show to make the journey back to Manchester more comfortable.

Alex Sanderson’s early-season pacesetters were rarely at the required level and it took just nine minutes to leak their first try, full-back Joe Carpenter making a mess of a kick that allowed Tyrone Green to grab the ball and complete a simple run in.

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The South African used his footwork to set off on a mazy run out of defence that launched a fresh home assault which ended with a Quins penalty.

Sale were spending time in opposition territory but each time departed without any points with Ford missing one very kickable penalty on the half-hour mark.

Joe Launchbury was hurt in contact but Quins were relieved to see their England second row rise to his feet and rejoin a match that was in danger of slipping away from the Sharks.

Sensing the urgency, Sale ended the first half by using forward pick and goes to batter away at the whitewash but the resilience shown in defence by Quins meant they were confined to a Ford penalty.

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And it appeared to be a costly failure early in the second half when Quins’ attack clicked into gear through the skills of their half-backs, Smith slicing through the visitors and darting clear before sending the supporting Care over.

Problems continued to mount for Sale as Arron Reed was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on and once a large scuffle had subsided, hooker Sam Riley peeled off from a line-out maul and dived over.

Second place in the table was confirmed when Sharks’ poor clearance offered an invitation to attack and Quins accepted, Smith launching a move down the left side of the field that was finished by Joseph.

Sale’s defence was creaking again to enable Joseph to plunder his second in the final indignity for the out of sorts Premiership leaders.

Scorers:

For Harlequins:
Tries: Green, Care, Riley, Joseph 2
Cons: Smith 3, J Evans
Pens: Smith

For Sale Sharks:
Pens: Ford

Teams:

Harlequins: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Nick David, 13 Will Josep, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Marcus Smit, 9 Danny Car, 8 Alex Dombrandt (captain), 7 Will Evans, 6 Chandler Cunningham-South, 5 Dino Lamb, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Will Collier, 2 Sam Riley, 1 Joe Marler,
Replacements: 16 Nathan Jibulu, 17 Fin Baxter, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Irne Herbst, 20 James Chisholm, 21 Will Porter, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Oscar Beard

Sale: 15 Joe Carpenter, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Rob du Preez, 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Arron Reed, 10 George Ford, 9 Gus Warr, 8. Daniel du Preez, 7. Ben Curry (captain), 6. Ernst van Rhyn, 5. Jonny Hill, 4. Cobus Wiese, 3. Nik Schonert, 2. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1. Simon McIntyre
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 James Harpe, 19 Josh Beaumont, 20 Sam Dugdale, 21 Raffi Quirke, 22 Sam James, 23 Tom O’Flaherty

Referee: Luc Ramos
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce & Gareth Holsgrove
TMO: Patric Dellac

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