Sale put eight tries on Exeter
April 19, 2014
Sale's Sam Tuitupou darts through the Exeter defence
© Getty Images
Sale Sharks stunned host Exeter Chiefs with an eight-try 55-12 victory at Sandy Park on Saturday.
The emphatic win guaranteed Sale a place in next season's European Rugby Champions Cup. In truth, the result never looked to be in doubt.
Two tries in two minutes approaching the half-hour mark through Tom Arscott and Sam Tuitupou, added to an earlier touchdown from Michael Paterson, gave the Sharks a commanding 19-7 half-time lead. Danny Cipriani, who impressed in front of the watching Andy Farrell, added two of his three first-half conversion attempts - the other hit the upright - but Exeter finally troubled the scoreboard just before the break with a try from Fetu'u Vainikolo which Gareth Steenson converted.
The Sharks dominated the second half with as second try from Tuitupou plus one each from Dwayne Peel, Dave Seymour and Tom Brady and Russia international second row Andrei Ostrikov. Cipriani added two conversions with his replacement Joe Ford also landing a drop-goal and two conversions. Exeter's only reply in a very poor display came late in the half through Carl Rimmer.
Exeter were forced to make a late change with skipper Dean Mumm dropping out with a shoulder injury so James Phillips was promoted from the bench to join Damian Welsh in the Chiefs second row. It was Phillips' first Aviva Premiership match since he sustained a knee injury in the home win over Saracens back in September 2012. Ben White came in at openside flanker with Will Carrick-Smith added to the bench and fly-half Steenson leading the side.
Sale, who went in to the match 11 points and one place their hosts, were led by openside flanker Seymour with Viliami Fahiki at No.8 and James Gaskell switching to blindside, flanker while in the backs Charlie Ingall was on the left wing.
The first real scoring opportunity came after 10 minutes when Sale wing Brady was bundled into touch just short of the line. But referee Dean Richards pulled play back for a knock-on. Exeter won the scrum and kicked for touch but Sale won the lineout which led to a break from second row Paterson, who shrugged off three poor tackles to power over the line for a Sharks try which Cipriani converted from the touchdown.
Unforced errors and missed first-up tackles continued to hamper the Chiefs' play and allow Sale to gain the territorial advantage. From a scrum, the ball was worked the ball wide with Cipriani giving the scoring pass for full back Arscott to touch down. Cipriani saw his conversion attempt from close to the right touchline hit the near upright, but he drilled the ball between the posts a couple of minutes later after Viliami Fahiki had broken tackles and offloaded to Seymour for Tuitupou to score.
With seven minutes of the half remaining, referee Richards failed to play advantage when centre Sam Hill had the line at his mercy. Steenson turned down three simple three points and kicked for the corner, only to penalised at the lineout. But Exeter reduced the arrears just before the break. Tonga international Vainikolo sprinted 30 minutes down the left touchline and round behind the posts for a try and Steenson added the extras to leave the Chiefs trailing 19-7 at the break.
Sale pinned their hosts back in to their own half early after the restart but, when the Chiefs settled into their game and made progress towards the opposition line, they went for the wrong options and lacked cohesion. Approaching the midway point of the half, the Sharks earned their bonus point as Tuitupou raced 35 metres to score his second try under the posts with Cipriani, who gave the scoring pass, adding the extras.
This took the game beyond the Chiefs but the Sharks added salt to the hosts' wounds as scrum-half Peel, who is moving to Bristol next season, scored in the right corner and Cipriani converted. The embarrassment continued with Sale taking advantage as the Chiefs lineout proved too long and skipper Seymour collected to run the 20 metres to score under the posts. Replacement fly-half Ford converted and then a drop-goal.
Brady went over in the corner for the Sharks' seventh try as the Chiefs supporters began to leave the ground with five minutes still to play, Ford's touchline conversion attempt hitting the upright. Just as in the first half, Exeter rallied in the closing minutes with a try from a driving maul with replacement prop Rimmer getting the touchdown.
But that was as good as it got for the Chiefs as replacement lock Ostrikov crossed for Sale's eighth and final try, which was converted by Ford.
Damian Welch finds it hard going against Sale © Getty Images
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