Blues snatch victory against Sale
October 4, 2008
Cardiff Blues' Mark Lewis looks to break the tackle of Sale's Chris Jones
© Getty Images
A late try from Cardiff Blues saw them edge out Sale 18-17 in their Anglo-Welsh Cup clash at Edgeley Park.
Richard Mustoe touched down in the closing stages to hand the visitors a narrow victory in their Group B opener against Guinness Premiership outfit Sale.
Leigh Halfpenny and Rudi Keil made it one try apiece in the first half, but Cardiff had the final say when replacement Mustoe crossed in the left corner to ensure Sale had nothing more than a losing bonus-point to show for their efforts. Sale director of rugby Philippe Saint-Andre used the match as an opportunity to rest his established players amid a gruelling schedule, which saw his side play at London Irish on Wednesday and lose their unbeaten start to the season.
A 28-6 reverse at the Madejski Stadium ended the Sharks' run of four straight victories in which they did not concede a try to set a new Premiership record. Not one of the players who lined up against the Exiles were retained in a youthful-looking starting line-up against Cardiff as Saint-Andre fielded a team of fringe players.
Seven of Sale's starting XV were given their first taste of first-team action this season, among them former Cardiff utility-back Nick Macleod, who lined up to make his debut at full-back against his former club. That Macleod struck the opening blow with a well-struck penalty from 40 metres to edge Sale ahead in only the second minute looked a promising omen for Sale.
Ben Blair, Macleod's opposite number, then spurned the chance to draw Cardiff level moments later when he skewed a penalty wide, but Macleod did likewise in the 10th minute as both sides initially struggled to find any rhythm. That changed in spectacular fashion in the 12th minute when Cardiff cut Sale to pieces thanks to a piece of individual skill from scrum-half Richie Rees.
Rees, collecting possession on the right-hand side of the pitch around 40 metres from the visitors' line, advanced forward at pace and sold two Sale players a delightful dummy, giving him the space to sprint forward and send the supporting Halfpenny over the line with a clever underarm offload. Halfpenny gave his side the best possible chance of the additional two points by touching down under the posts, and Blair duly obliged with the boot to put the Blues 7-3 ahead.
Sale needed only three minutes to find a score of equal quality as stand-in scrum-half Chris Leck's long offload found Spaniard Oriol Ripol lurking on the left flank. He raced forward and played a neat one-two with Richard Wigglesworth before a neat, short offload sent Keil over the line from close range.
Macleod failed to convert and then both and he Blair missed penalties as the blustery conditions made kicking duties difficult. Both men did, however, claim penalties before the interval to ensure Sale went in at the break with a slender 11-10 advantage, but a man down for a short period either side of the break after Marc Jones was sent to the sin-bin.
Another Macleod penalty edged Sale further ahead after the break but Ceri Sweeney added a penalty for Cardiff to keep the gap to one point. Macleod's fourth kick looked to have sealed it for the hosts but it was Cardiff who clinched the win when Mustoe finished off a fine, flowing move in the left-hand corner.
Sale: Macleod, Kuadey, Keil, Tuilagi, Ripol, Wigglesworth, Leck, Faure, M. Jones, Halsall, C. Jones, Cockbain, White, D. Tait, Fearns.
Replacements: Royle for Kuadey (50), Kennedy for Tuilagi (68), Shaw for C. Jones (75), Gaskell for White (68), Davies for D. Tait (36).
Not Used: O'Donnell, Holmes.
Sin Bin: M. Jones (36).
Cardiff Blues: Blair, Halfpenny, J. Robinson, J. Roberts, G. Thomas, Sweeney, Rees, Yapp, T. Thomas, Filise, Davies, Tito, A. Powell, M. Williams, Lewis.
Replacements: Mustoe for Halfpenny (49), Shanklin for J. Robinson (71), N. Robinson for Sweeney (55), G. Williams for T. Thomas (80), G. Powell for Filise (54), Jones for Davies (53), Sowden-Taylor for A. Powell (55).
Ref: Tim Hayes (WRFU).
© PA Sport
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape