Wasps lose late at Sale

On a miserable evening at the AJ Bell Stadium, 15 points from the boot of Danny Cipriani condemned Wasps to a narrow defeat, with only a losing bonus point to show for their efforts.

15 - 9
Sale Sharks Wasps

Sat 2nd January 2016
5:30 pm

The AJ Bell Stadium Stadium Aviva Premiership As it happened

The game began with the rain falling steadily. Inside the first minute, Jimmy Gopperth sent a long raking kick towards the right corner, but it went beyond the corner flag to give Sale a scrum back on the Wasps' 10-meter line. Josh Beaumont broke down the blindside of the scrum and the ball was moved out wide to the left, but the defence was on hand to force Mike Haley into touch.

A Wasps clearance was then sent into touch on the full and the lineout, just outside the 22, yielded a breakdown penalty for the home side, seven meters in from touch and 30 metres out. Danny Cipriani’s fine kick opened the scoring, with seven minutes played.

Five minutes later, Sale found space out on the left to send Haley clear, but the defence managed to get across to block a potential scoring pass inside. Sale continued to press and should have scored several phases later, before losing possession and allowing Wasps to clear downfield. A strong chase by Frank Halai put the defence under pressure, leading to a Wasps scrum in midfield a few metres outside the Sale 22. They won possession and moved the ball out to the left but a wild pass sailed into touch.

Wasps put together their next attack, when Sam Jones took a quick tap from a scrum freekick near halfway. The ball was moved out to the left, but Elliot Daly’s pass towards Charles Piutau went into touch. A minute later, another promising attack down the left ended with Wasps conceding a penalty at the breakdown.

With the rain still falling, handling was difficult and one threatening run from defence by Charles Piutau made 30 metres before he lost the ball in contact, near halfway.

Wasps came close to the game’s first try, following quick hands from the forwards and a superb break by Elliot Daly down the left. He fed Rob Miller, who cut inside one defender before being tackled just short. His momentum took him to the line, but the ball squirted from his grasp in the tackle as he tried to touch down. A minute later, Sale strayed offside at the breakdown 30 metres out in the middle of the field. Jimmy Gopperth landed the kick to level the scores.

Wasps immediately gave Sale an attacking opportunity, when they failed to control Cipriani’s searching restart. Sale moved the ball across the field, but defensive pressure forced Chris Cusiter to send a poor pass to his fly-half, who tried a snap drop at goal, which went wide.

Wasps went ahead with the final play of the first half, after a well-controlled build-up gave Elliot Daly the chance to land a neat drop goal, from 20 metres out, just to the left of the posts. After spending much of the half in their own territory, Wasps will have been very happy with a 6-3 lead at the break.

Wasps produced some excellent continuity in the opening minutes of the second half, but the greasy ball was again posing problems and some promising moves were ended when it was spilt inside the Sale 22.

After 55 minutes, a powerful Sale scrum won a penalty 45 metres out, just to the right of the posts and Cipriani’s kick brought the score to 6-6. Wasps immediately won possession from the restart and went through a series of phases to take play close to the Sale line, only to concede a penalty at the breakdown.

Charles Piutau produced one of the highlights of the game, with a glorious counter-attacking run from deep inside his own half making 40 metres, before being stopped out wide on the left. Wasps kept the  ball alive and moved back infield, but again lost possession in contact, enabling Sale to send a long clearance downfield which  George Smith was forced to take into touch near the corner. Wasps conceded a penalty from the ensuing lineout and Cipriani put his side back in front, with 15 minutes left to play.

Ben Jacobs then glided  through the Sale midfield, making 40 metres in a fine run to take play into the home 22. Once again, after several well-controlled phases, Wasps lost the ball in contact.

With just over ten minutes left, Kearnan Myall gathered a bouncing ball, after Charles Piutau competed well in the air. He made 20 metres, before passing inside to James Haskell inside the Sale 22. Wasps made a series of darts for the line, with Frank Halai going close in the right corner, before the defence conceded a penalty near the posts and Jimmy Gopperth had a straightforward kick to level things again at 9-9.

A minute later, a powerful Sale driving maul took play up towards the Wasps 22 and won them a penalty. With the referee playing advantage, Cipriani hoisted a towering kick to the line. A series of drives forced some desperate defence and it seemed that Peter Stringer might have found his way over, but the TMO ruled no try. Cipriani  went back for the penalty, 35 metres out and his perfectly struck kick put his side back in front with only five minutes left.

Two minutes from time, the former Wasp added a  close-range drop goal to stretch the lead to six points. From the restart, Sale controlled the ball through a series of phases to run the clock down and secure a narrow victory.

Sale Sharks Line ups

  1. Ross Harrison
  2. Tommy Taylor
  3. Vadim Cobilas
  4. Bryn Evans
  5. Jon Mills
  6. Daniel Braid
  7. David Seymour
  8. Josh Beaumont
  9. Chris Cusiter
  10. Danny Cipriani
  11. Will Addison
  12. Sam Tuitupou
  13. Sam James
  14. Tom Arscott
  15. Mike Haley
  16. Cameron Neild
  17. Eifion Lewis-Roberts
  18. Brian Mujati
  19. Andrey Ostrikov
  20. Mark Easter
  21. Peter Stringer
  22. Joe Ford
  23. Mark Jennings

Wasps Line ups

  1. Matt Mullan
  2. Ashley Johnson
  3. Lorenzo Cittadini
  4. Joe Launchbury
  5. James Gaskell
  6. James Haskell
  7. George Smith
  8. Sam Jones
  9. Joe Simpson
  10. Jimmy Gopperth
  11. Charles Piutau
  12. Ben Jacobs
  13. Elliot Daly
  14. Frank Halai
  15. Rob Miller
  16. Ed Shervington
  17. Simon McIntyre
  18. Phil Swainston
  19. Kearnan Myall
  20. Thomas Young
  21. Dan Robson
  22. Ruaridh Jackson
  23. Sailosi Tagicakibau