Exeter Chiefs 19-22 Sale Sharks | Game Day Highlights
Sale continued to mount a series of attacks on the Chiefs defence in the next few minutes, and a great move saw a charging Dan du Preez put through Webber, who found Ashton out wide to go over. Rob du Preez’s follow up steered just wide of the posts.
A period of non-stop pressure in the Sharks 22 from Exeter followed and eventually, the home side got over through Phil Dollman. Steenson missed the extras and the scores were 5-8, after an intensely fought opening 30 minutes at Sandy Park.
The away side immediately looked to respond and increase their lead, and a brilliant move from a line out sent Will Cliff down the wing. The scrum-half found Jean Luc du Preez, who coolly offloaded to his twin, Dan, to score. Rob du Preez was good for the extras and the Sharks were in front by ten points.
Just as the game seemed to calm as half-time approached, the ultimate opportunist, Byron McGuigan, intercepted a loose pass in midfield and ran under the posts from halfway against his former side. Rob du Preez converted and the scores were at 5-22, after an incredible first half from the Sharks.
The opening 10 minutes of the second half saw each side press for the next score, but both defences remained strong in this evenly matched period, in which possession was shared.
Exeter pushed the Sale defence hard heading into the 65-minute mark, as they made good ground by winning a number of scrum-penalties and relentlessly pressed towards the try line. Despite a period of staunch defending from the Sharks, the hosts eventually got over through Sam Simmonds. Steenson was good for the conversion, and thus reduced Sale’s lead to ten points heading into the final ten minutes.
Exeter set the game up for a nail-biting finale as Dollman offloaded to O’Flaherty, who dived over. After further tense moments of TMO checking, the try was eventually given and Steenson converted. Despite the late charge from the home side, the Sharks held on to a hard fought and epic first win in six years at Sandy Park.
Steve Diamond reflected on the well-deserved win with the media:
“We got our noses in front first half. Knowing Exeter as we do, they were always going to come back. They got the rub of the green with the try, which made it pretty intense for me certainly! But it was a good performance, we’ve been playing reasonably well. We targeted this game because we’ve always run them close here, we’ve only won once out of ten games so yeah I’m delighted”
The Sharks have a well-earned break this week, before they face Saracens in the Premiership Rugby Cup semi-final a week on Friday at the AJ Bell.
Sale Sharks Starting XV:
15. Simon Hammersley, 14. Chris Ashton, 13, Sam James, 12. Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11. Byron McGuigan, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Will Cliff; 1. Ross Harrison, 2. Rob Webber, 3. Jake Cooper-Woolley, 4. Bryn Evans, 5. Jean-Luc du Preez, 6. Jono Ross (Capt.) 7. Ben Curry, 8. Daniel du Preez.
16. Curtis Langdon, 17. Coenie Oosthuizen, 18. Will-Griff John, 19. James Phillips, 20. Matt Postlethwaite, 21. Gus Warr, 22. Luke James, 23. Marland Yarde.
Exeter Chiefs Starting XV:
15. Phil Dolman, 14. Tom O’Flaherty, 13. Ian Whitten, 12. Sam Hill, 11. Olly Woodburn, 10. Gareth Steenson, 9. Stu Townsend; 1. Ben Moon, 2. Elvis Taione, 3. Enrique Pieretto, 4. Dave Dennis (Capt.) 5. Jonny Hill, 6. Dave Ewers, 7. Jacques Vermulen, 8. Sam Simmonds.
16. Jordan Poole, 17. Alec Hepburn, 18. Marcus Street, 19. Sam Skinner, 20. Matt Kvesic, 21. Jack Maunder, 22. Harvey Skinner, 23. Tom Hendrickson