Sale Sharks beat Gloucester 46-41 in a 13 try thriller at the AJ Bell Stadium. Seven different scorers, including Rob Webber on his 200th Premiership appearance ensured they took home the spoils and would give themselves a chance at Champions Cup rugby next season. Robert Rees reports.
Sale Sharks beat Gloucester in race for top six
Sale started the brightest and after a great move off the lineout by scrum half Faf De Klerk who set AJ MacGinty on his way it was Tom Curry who got the host opening score after just three minutes.
Sale were up for the match that they needed to win to boost their hopes of Champions Cup rugby and were nearly in straight away when Chris Ashton got free down the near touchline.
Gloucester reacted swiftly and a Ollie Thorley and Charlie Sharples break set them on their way to an opening score. Sale pinged for holding on allowed the pack to drive up field and Lloyd Evans neatly put Tom Seabrook over to level the scores at seven a piece.
Sale then began to heap more pressure on. Gloucester holding on inside their own 22 lead to a driving lineout that was hauled forward by Rob Webber on his 200th appearance for the Sharks to get their second before a Byron McGuigan break set up Sam James for the third.
Bad went to terrible for Gloucester who lost both starting wingers to injury as this occurred.
The Cherry and Whites clawed their way back into it after Jake Polledri rushed his way through the Sale defence to set Ben Vellacott on his way under the posts. Evans converting his second kick of the afternoon.
Johan Ackermann’s men then set about taking the lead for the first time. A powerful clean break from Matt Banahan, also on his 200th Premiership game, allowed Gloucester to take the lead for the first time in the game.
In a fast and open game Sale wrapped up their bonus point with the try of the half. Interlinking play between AJ MacGinty, Jono Ross, Faf De Klerk and Chris Ashton regaining them the lead and settling the vital extra point nerves.
Gloucester sealed a bonus point of their own though as Lewis Ludlow pushed over from a driving maul to give his side the lead at the break in a barnstorming half of rugby.
Half time; Sale Sharks 24-26 Gloucester
The second half kicked off where the first had ended. A beautifully delivered offload from Ross to Ashton to set up McGuigan and another change of lead. Gloucester swiftly responding though Dom Coetzer’s first Premiership try.
After some actual defending took place Ben Vellacott added second following some superb work from Jake Polledri, but fitting with the game’s style Sale responded with two tries of their own.
AJ Macginty going over after a sublime break by De Klerk put Solomona in space and then following it up with an even better break from the scrum half to allow an acrobatic finish from their top try scorer.
Sale ground out the last five minutes well after a period of pressure and ended the game with an AJ MacGinty penalty.
Full time; Sale Sharks 46-41 Gloucester
Sale Sharks; Chris Ashton, Denny Solomona, Sam James, James O’Connor, Byron McGuigan, AJ MacGinty, Faf De Klerk, Ross Harrison, Rob Webber, WillGriff John, Josh Beaumont, James Phillips, Ben Curry, Tom Curry, Jono Ross (C). Replacements; Curtis Langdon, Valery Morozov, Joe Jones, Bryn Evans, Josh Strauss, Will Cliff, Luke James, Aaron Reed.
Gloucester; Charlie Sharples, Tom Seabrook, Henry Purdy, Matt Banahan, Ollie Thorley, Lloyd Evans, Callum Braley, Kyle Traynor, Henry Walker, Gareth Denman, Tom Savage (C), Gerbrandt Grobler, Jake Polledri, Lewis Ludlow, Gareth Evans. Replacements; Todd Gleave, Alex Seville, Paddy McAllister, Alex Craig, Aaron Hinkley, Ben Vellacott, Dom Coetzer, Tom Marshall.
Referee: Wayne Barnes
“Main photo credit”