Gloucester too strong for Sale
November 24, 2012
Gloucester on the up following victory over Sale
Gloucester climbed up to third place in the Aviva Premiership as they inflicted the eighth league defeat of the season on bottom side Sale Sharks.
Two tries, one from Akapusi Qera and the other a penalty touchdown, in the last quarter ended a match which failed to inspire. Home fly-half Freddie Burns booted five penalties in the opening 24 minutes and converted both tries against a solitary penalty from ex-England ace Danny Cipriani for Sale. But the win was marred by a serious-looking neck injury to the home side's Australia hooker Huia Edmonds 10 minutes into the second half.
Gloucester have not lost at Kingsholm since Northampton beat them on September 1 as they went in search of a a seventh home victory. It was down to sloppy Sale errors and the precise boot of Burns, this season's top points scorer in the Premiership, that Gloucester went clear early on.
The Sharks, looking for a second league victory of the season after breaking their duck with a 21-9 win over London Irish earlier this month, were never in it.
Burns put the Cherry and Whites in front after five minutes with the first of his five penalties in the opening period. And the fly-half showed plenty of confidence to nail his next four kicks, two from 40 metres, one from 45m and the other way out on the left from about 50m.
There were no clear-cut try-scoring chances from either side during a dull first period until Sale had a chance in the final six minutes. They were desperate to get back into the game at 15-0 down and, instead of going for goal when awarded a penalty, tried a kick to touch and attacking line-out. The drive took them close, but when British Lions scrum-half Dwayne Peel fed number eight Andy Powell, the ex-Wales international dropped the ball.
Cipriani got Sale on the board with a 25m penalty, but after the break and despite some good drives from big centre Sam Tuitupou, handling mistakes again let the Sharks down.
The match was held up 10 minutes into the second half for the worrying injury to Edmonds after Sale's pack drove into a maul near the home line. Edmonds fell to the ground as medics raced on to the pitch and spent six minutes treating him before the hooker was stretchered off with his neck in a brace.
Billy Twelvertrees helped Gloucester up to third with a win over Sale Sharks © Getty Images
Sale got back into it the quicker from the restart, but lost their way as Gloucester regained the initiative and, to the relief of the home support, put themselves almost out of sight with 17 minutes remaining.
Fijian flanker Qera took a short pass from scrum-half Jimmy Cowan to drive over the line from five metres. It brought some life back into the Cherry and Whites and, with Cipriani now on the bench with an icepack on his knee, Sale's chances were gone.
Gloucester finished on top with their scrum hammering the opposition. And it was after a series of attacking scrums that the visitor's pack collapsed under the pressure on their own line and referee Luke Pearce had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try that finished things off.
And post-match coach Nigel Davies praised fly-half Burns and said he was ready for international duty. "I think he has played superbly well. I think he has got everything that an international outside-half needs. "What we have seen here with him is a maturity which probably wasn't there in the past - but his game management today was excellent.
"He kept the ball in front of his pack for the best part of the game and put a lot of pressure on Sale as a result. Then to step up and get the points - and they weren't easy kicks - he never looked like missing.
"He is always a threat, even today with such a boggy field, he was always there. So, for me, he is an exceptional player, somebody who is on top of his game at the moment."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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