A League: Wasps bounce back to win at Sale Jets
Wasps bounced back from last week’s heavy A League defeat at the hands of Newcastle to claim a battling 22-12 away win against Sale Jets at Heywood Road.
The black-and-golds built up a 19-7 half-time advantage through tries from TJ Harris, Will Millett and Will Stuart, then defended resolutely after the break to bank four points.
This result was particularly pleasing given the Sale side Wasps A faced, which included former England and Wasps hooker Rob Webber, 34-year-old Tongan World Cup veteran Halani Aulika, Samoan star Jonny Leota and rugby league convert Josh Charnley.
The match kicked off in steady rain and the hosts were quickly into their stride when Arran Reed’s break sent George Nott over for a third minute try which fly half Alex Dolly converted.
A powerful carry from prop Ben Harris and an Owain James burst gave Wasps a foothold in the match, before Nottingham fly half Will Millett combined with the pacy James to send hooker TJ Harris over.
And better followed early in the second quarter when Millett popped up in support of breaks from Tom Willis and winger Aaron O’Sullivan to claim a second Wasps try, converted by Jacob Umaga.
Alex Dolly pulled a penalty chance wide after Wasps were penalised for a high tackle, after which the black-and-golds showed some spirited defence to keep Sale’s driving lineout attempt at bay.
Wasps then worked their way upfield, and after the hosts lost flanker Nick Dolly to the sinbin for a cynical infringement close to the line they claimed a third try.
This time the scorer was tight head Stuart, who was driven over from a close-range lineout after Wasps eschewed three points in favour of exploiting their numerical superiority.
Umaga’s conversion left the visitors holding a 12-point interval advantage, but after starting the second period brightly, they received a setback when former Newcastle loose head Ben Harris was shown a 50th minute yellow card for a stamp.
The Jets missed a golden opportunity to close the gap when No.8 Laurence Pearce knocked on deep in the away 22, and with pressure building, Wasps conceded a string of penalties in deep defence.
Something had to give, and eventually the home side claimed a deserved score touched down by prop Jake Pope at the rear of a driving maul.
This was the trigger for Wasps to send on four replacements, and now restored to full strength they almost immediately claimed three points through Umaga’s simple head-on penalty.
One of the new arrivals, tight head David Langley, then ended a threatening Sale attack by claiming a crucial turnover, and a powerful carry from the outstanding Tom Willis kept the visitors on the front foot with ten minutes remaining.
And despite applying plenty of pressure, Sale were unable to make any further inroads which meant Wasps had opened their A League account for the season.
Academy manager Jon Pendlebury was delighted with his team’s display.
“I thought it was a really good effort all round,” he said. “We had a number of changes from last week and owe a big thank-you to those clubs who have supported us.
“Almost all of the 23 trained together on Saturday and that showed in a much better all-round performance.
“We’re trying to create a competitive A League team that can go to places like Sale and Tigers and hold its own.
“Sale put out a strong team, and I was really pleased with some of the pressure we were able to apply and the tries we scored.”
Sale Jets: . Charlie Venables; Aaron Reed, Luke James, Johnny Leota, Josh Charnley; Alex Dolly, Chris Calvert; Jake Pope, Rob Webber, Halani Aulika; Matt Postlethwaite, George Nott; Nick Dolly, David Seymour, Laurence Pearce.
Replacements: Curtis Langdon, John Blanchard, Laurence Sanderson, Josef Murphy, Kennet O’Neil, Ciaran Connolly, Billy Wara, Tom Carleton.
Wasps A: Owain James; Aaron O’Sullivan, Guy Armitage, Jacob Umaga, Jo Davantanilu; Will Millett, Will Porter; Ben Harris, T.J Harris, Will Stuart; Tim Cardall, Guy Borrowdale; George Cox, Gabriel Oghre, Tom Willis.
Replacements: Will Owen, George Thornton, David Langley, Cameron Gray, Matt Dawson, Josh Nott, Alex Goble, Josh Grimes.
Referee: Neil Chivers
Half Time: Sale Jets 7-19 Wasps A
Tries: Nott, Pope
Tries: TJ Harris, Millett, Stuart
Conversions: Umaga (2)