Solomona's hat-trick shock Wasps
PREMIERSHIP REPORT: Denny Solomona delivered one of the best individual displays ever seen at the AJ Bell Stadium as his hat-trick helped Sale Sharks stun Premiership Rugby leaders Wasps with a 34-28 win.
The wing scored three times in the first half, with the first seeing him score in his first five Premiership Rugby games – a record in the competition.
And when Mark Jennings opened the second half with the bonus-point score, Sharks were living in dreamland with the score at 34-9 – the perfect foundation for their fifth successive win in all competitions.
Yet Wasps fought back through Josh Bassett and Ashley Johnson, eventually falling short and missing out on a chance to extend their lead atop the table, despite Kurtley Beale setting up a frantic finish with ten minutes remaining.
Sale had started on the back-foot, but a long-range penalty from Will Addison – impeccable all afternoon – produced some much-needed momentum, despite Jimmy Gopperth levelling up from the tee.
But with confidence came excellent rugby from Steve Diamond’s side, with Solomona coming off his wing, picking the ball up from the ruck and speeding in under the posts.
Two more Gopperth penalties kept Wasps in touching distance however, looking to make the most of nearest-challengers Saracens missing out to Gloucester Rugby on Friday.
But Solomona made that challenge all the more difficult when adding a second for his side, chipping forward and gathering in superb style to set the AJ Bell Stadium rocking.
The 23-year-old was not to be done there either, wrapping up his first Premiership Rugby hat-trick within just 39 minutes as good Sharks work down the blindside saw him dot down, with Addison again adding the extras.
Any hopes of a Wasps comeback seemed thwarted immediately into the second half as Jennings profited from a driving maul, before a knock-on prevented Solomona from getting a mesmeric fourth of the afternoon.
But the visitors showed exactly why they lead the Premiership Rugby standings, with Dai Young’s side dropping just four points since defeat to Gloucester Rugby in November.
A break from Beale led to a clinical breakaway from which Bassett provided apt support, running in for his side’s first try of the afternoon to cut the gap to 15 points.
Still Wasps kept on pushing, scoring a second with still 25 minutes left to play as Johnson dotted down in the corner, though Danny Cipriani was unable to add the extra two points from the tee.
And suddenly Wasps were back within one score as an excellent Willie le Roux saw Beale get a deserved score of his own, with Cipriani this time striking an important conversion to unleash a six-point game.
But with the scoreboard ticking down, a resolute Sale defence proved its worth, confidently running down the clock to maintain their winning form and take maximum points, with Wasps forced to settle for a losing bonus point.
Tries: Solomona 3, Jennings
Cons: Addison 4
Pens: Addison 2
Tries: Bassett, Johnson, Beale
Cons: Gopperth 2
Pens: Gopperth 3
Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Will Addison (captain), 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 Sam James, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Josh Beaumont, 7 Magnus Lund, 6 TJ Ioane, 5 George Nott, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Cameron Neild, 17 James Flynn, 18 Kieran Longbottom, 19 Tom Curry, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 AJ MacGinty, 23 Johnny Leota
Wasps: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Jimmy Gopperth, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Alex Rieder, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Ashley Johnson (captain), 5 James Gaskell, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Matt Mullan
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Marty Moore, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Jack Willis, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Alapati Leiua, 23 Willie Le Roux
Referee: Matthew Carly
Assistant Referees: Ian Tempest, Anthony Woodthorpe
TMO: Sean Davey