Sharks heap woe on Wasps
November 23, 2008
Sale's Anitele'a Tuilagi takes on the Wasps defence at Adams Park
© Getty Images
Sale Sharks condemned London Wasps to their sixth Premiership defeat with narrow 13-12 victory in their clash at Adams Park.
Mark Cueto's last-gasp try snatched a vital one-point victory for Sale and compounded misery on Wasps who have won just once all season. The out-of-favour England wing capitalised on some suicidal Wasps' defending in the dying stages leaving Charlie Hodgson the simplest of tasks to seal the Premiership win from in front of the posts.
Both sets of backs were spectators for most of the 80 minutes and with both sides eager for victory, no caution was thrown into the howling wind. The game started in tentative fashion, both full-backs testing each other out with good long kicks on a very slippery surface.
A mistake from Sale full-back Nick MacLeod and an ever reliable Raphael Ibanez line-out set up the first points of the match for Wasps, Dave Walder converting on nine minutes for 3-0. The Wasps pack began to dominate and good work in the breakdown gave Walder another opportunity just three minutes later for a 6-0 lead.
Hodgson, keen to send England boss Martin Johnson a timely reminder of his talents, soon cut the arrears to three before another Walder penalty made it 9-3 on 20 minutes. After Richard Birkett and Dean Schofield were sin-binned, reducing both teams to 14, the Wasps forwards were flying in a weakened pack but the resilient Sale held off their attacks.
Sale's excellent defence showed precisely why they did not concede a try for the first four games of the season but again they were toothless in attack. A further exchange of kicks finally gave Hodgson the chance to make it 9-6 before a fourth Walder penalty sent Wasps into the break 12-6 ahead after 40 minutes of brutal rugby.
Some superb Sale kicking from the hand early in the second half finally gave them some possession in the Wasps 22. But mistakes from both sides crept in and neither were able to put any consistent pressure on their opponents as the game continued to be played off the boots of Lachlan Mitchell and MacLeod.
A skewed Hodgson penalty epitomised a game lacking in ability and represented the only scoring chance in the first 20 minutes of the second half. A George Skivington breakaway in the belting rain threatened to bring the game to life but an incredible Sale defensive effort fought off yet another attack.
Even Walder's usually assured kicking was now faltering as two miscued penalties, one which did not even reach the posts, failed to increase Wasps' slim lead. And Wasps were made to pay in the closing stages when England hopeful Cueto ghosted through the home defence to hand Sale the narrowest of victories in this error-strewn game.
Wasps: Mitchell, Bishay, Lewsey, van Gisbergen, Voyce, Walder, Robinson, French, Ibanez, Barnard, Skivington, Birkett, Leo, Betsen, Worsley.
Replacements: Webber for Ibanez (41), Hart for Leo (60). Not Used: Varley, Holford, Honeyben, Ellis, Staunton.
Sin Bin: Birkett (18).
Sale: McLeod, Cueto, McAlister, Bell, Doherty, Hodgson, Wigglesworth, Roberts, M. Jones, Turner, Schofield, White, D. Tait, Briggs, Fearns.
Replacements: M. Tait for McLeod (46), Tuilagi for Bell (63), O'Donnell for Turner (76), Abraham for D. Tait (53). Not Used: Ward, Cockbain, Leck.
Sin Bin: Schofield (18).
Referee: Dean Richards (RFU).