Mon 9 Jan 2023 | 09:12

Saffas steer Sale Sharks to win over Harlequins

Saffas steer Sale Sharks to win over Harlequins
Mon 9 Jan 2023 | 09:12
Saffas steer Sale Sharks to win over Harlequins
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PREMIERSHIP WRAP: Sale Sharks overcame an early injury to Tom Curry to sweep aside Premiership title rivals Harlequins 24-16 at a rain-soaked Twickenham Stoop.

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Curry gave new England head coach Steve Borthwick a scare ahead of the upcoming Six Nations when he limped off in the 16th minute after his right leg was trapped awkwardly during a tackle by Wilco Louw.

His attempts to play on were unsuccessful, but impressive Sale regrouped following the departure of their explosive flanker to take Quins apart with a display of methodical precision that cements second place.

In a first-half dominated by kicking as heavy rain lashed down in southwest London, the Sharks crossed through Tom O’Flaherty and Rob du Preez to build a solid 14-6 interval lead.

Joe Marchant crossed to raise Quins’ hopes but it was a false dawn as Sale responded with forward tries by Akker van der Merwe and Cobus Wiese.

Nick David struck late on but Harlequins were effectively shut down by their canny opponents as they slumped to a third successive Premiership defeat.

Soon after Curry had trudged off, Sale engineered their first try when Luke James injected pace as the backs were launched off a line-out and having used his footwork to create space O’Flaherty was provided with a simple finish.

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Manu Tuilagi was the next to pierce the home defence but just as it appeared Quins had survived, Ben James won a turnover that Sam James used to grubber ahead for Du Preez to score.

Tommy Allan’s two penalties kept Harlequins in touch but just as they were looking to finish a one-sided first half with a flourish, their Italian fly-half failed to find touch with a penalty.

Cadan Murley then kicked the ball out on the full and as the interval neared the aspiring England wing appeared to be in growing discomfort, clutching his chest and coughing.

Quins were in need of inspiration to haul themselves back into contention and it came through Joe Marchant, who pounced when Luke James failed to deal with an Allan crossfield kick and easily won the race to the line.

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It proved to be only a fleeting moment of defiance, however, as Sale responded by building pressure on the home 22 and in the 54th minute they were over for their third try when a line-out drive was finished by Van der Merwe.

Allan came off worst in a collision from Tuilagi and was carried off on a stretcher after receiving treatment for several minutes.

Sale quickly resumed battering at the door and once more their pack outmuscled the hosts with Wiese claiming the final drive to secure the bonus point.

Another try looked to be coming but Quins broke from their half through Danny Care and several phases later David ran a slick line to carry him over, but the conversion was missed and the Sharks ran down the clock.

In the other match, Bristol Bears’ miserable season continued with a 7-23 defeat at London Irish after another poor performance which leaves them rooted to the bottom of the Premiership.

They are now two points adrift of 10th-placed Bath.

Irish had far more industry and attacking ideas to their game and were rewarded with tries from Benhard van Rensburg and Ben White. Rory Jennings converted both and added three penalties.

A try from Harry Thacker converted by AJ MacGinty was Bristol’s sole response.

Prior to kick-off, Irish suffered a big blow when talisman Paddy Jackson failed a fitness test to withdraw with a calf injury. Jennings stepped up from the bench to replace him at flyhalf.

The scores and scorers:

Harlequins 16-24 Sale Sharks

The scorers:

For Harlequins:
Tries: Marchant, David
Pens: Allan 2

For Sale Sharks:
Tries: O’Flaherty, R du Preez, Van der Merwe, Wiese
Cons: R Du Preez 2

London Irish 23-7 Bristol Bears

The scorers:

For London Irish:
Tries: Janse van Rensburg, White
Cons: Jennings 2
Pens: Jennings 3

For Bristol Bears:
Try: Thacker
Con: MacGinty

PV: 27
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