Sale Sharks break their duck
Sale Sharks break their duckSHARE
Greig Laidlaw's late pressure kick helped Gloucester produce a stirring comeback and snatch a 23-23 draw at Sixways in the M5 derby with Worcester Warriors. Worcester looked set to claim a first victory of the season but Laidlaw's flawless kicking performance, combined with late scores from Henry Purdy and Matt Scott, turned the game in Gloucester's favour.
Dan Mugford was the hero for Sale Sharks as he kicked 14 points on his home debut to seal a 19-10 victory over Harlequins. It was Sale's first win of the campaign and continues their formidable record at the AJ Bell Stadium, while John Kingston fell to his first league defeat at the Quins helm.
All Friday's scores and scorers!
Worcester Warriors 23-23 Gloucester
Gloucester started like an express train at Sixways, picking up early penalties as Worcester were continually penalised at the breakdown. The Cherry and Whites looked like a team determined to right their previous wrongs in the early stages.
Gloucester went ahead after only two minutes as Scotland international Laidlaw fired over a penalty, continuing his recent impressive run off the tee that has seen him score 28 of 29 shots at goal.
Warriors looked as tentative as the visitors in the early stages and struggled to get their hands on the ball in the opening 10 minutes.
Gloucester thought they had scored the game's opening try on 11 minutes. Billy Twelvetrees created the opportunity with a tackle, Gloucester pounced on the loose ball and Charlie Sharples touched down only to have the try disallowed.
Worcester had a five-metre scrum deep into Gloucester territory on 15 minutes after Jackson Willison bundled a Cherry and Whites defender over his own line following a lengthy foot race but the Warriors were unable to take advantage.
For all of their early dominance, it was Gloucester who conceded the game's first try. Ben Te'o crashed over the Worcester try-line after a clever inside pass. Lamb was unable to add the extras from the kicking tee.
Laidlaw pulled Gloucester back into the game with his second penalty on 25 minutes but the lead was short-lived. Worcester scored their second try of the evening just five minutes later as Cooper Vuna raced in unopposed into the corner after a clever pass from Lamb engineered the opportunity.
The Warriors No.10 then added the extras to make the score 12-6. Lamb then extended Worcester's lead with a smartly taken penalty to give Gloucester a mountain to climb as the game approached half-time.
Veteran Irish lock Donncha O'Callaghan was penalised for not rolling away within a minute of the restart and Laidlaw took full advantage to move Gloucester back to within six points. Lamb should have added to Worcester's lead on 47 minutes but his long-range penalty struck the woodwork.
Alafoti Fa'osiliva was sent off on 50 minutes but Worcester continued to threaten with 14 men and raced through to score their third try of the game just before the hour. Replacement wing Perry Humphreys received the ball and beat three men to score in the corner to extend the lead to 20-9 as Lamb was unable to add the extras.
Gloucester were handed a lifeline just after the hour mark as Cherry and Whites new boy Scott produced a smart finish to bundle his way over, with the ever-reliable Laidlaw adding the extras. Worcester extended their lead to 23-16 as Tom Heathcote fired over a penalty on 68 minutes but Gloucester refused to lie down.
Henry Purdy went over for Gloucester's second score of the night just a minute later, dotting down in the corner, while Laidlaw nailed a difficult conversion to level the scores at 23-23. For all their late pressure, Gloucester were unable to add to their haul and were forced to settle for a hard-earned draw.
For Worcester Warriors:
Tries: Te'o, Vuna, Humphreys
Pens: Lamb, Heathcote
Tries: Scott, Purdy
Cons: Laidlaw 2
Pens: Laidlaw 3
Red card: Alafoti Fa'osiliva (Worcester Warriors, 51)
Worcester Warriors: 15 Jackson Willison, 14 Dean Hammond, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Ben Te'o, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 GJ van Velze (captain), 7 Marco Mama, 6 Alafoti Faosiliva, 5 Darren Barry, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 James Johnston, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin.
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Na'ama Leleimalefaga, 18 Mike Daniels, 19 Christian Scotland-Williamson, 20 Carl Kirwan, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Perry Humphreys.
Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Yann Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 James Hook, 23 Mark Atkinson.
Referee: Luke Pearce
Sale Sharks 19-10 Harlequins
Former England captain Chris Robshaw scored a first Harlequins try in over two years, with Nick Evans kicking the conversion and a penalty, but Kingston's men struggled to get out of second gear in a fragmented game.
A heavy collision between Kyle Sinckler and Joe Marler saw TJ Ioane leave the field early on, but Mugford snaffled the first points for Sale when Mike Phillip's high kick was fumbled and young lock Sam Twomey was penalised at the breakdown.
Debutant Paolo Odogwu impressed the home crowd, twice skipping through tackles to get Sale good territory but it came to nothing. They did not have to wait long for their next points though, the pressure from a rolling maul telling on 14 minutes, allowing Mugford to make it two kicks from two.
Indiscipline at the breakdown continued to hurt Quins and Mugford took full advantage from the tee as Sale opened up a nine-point lead in the 21st minute.
Harlequins responded well though and after a series of penalties deep in Sale territory, all of which they kicked to touch, Robshaw barged over from close-range. Evans knocked over the conversion. With the visitors looking sharp, Jonathan Mills was sin-binned on 32 minutes but there was no further change to the score before half-time.
Sale brought on forward reinforcements shortly after the restart and the changes paid off almost immediately. Owen Evans was sin-binned when a big rolling maul was illegally stopped and when Mugford kicked to touch from the resultant penalty, another big drive ended with Seymour going over on 51 minutes.
Mugford kicked the tricky conversion and even though Evans' long-range penalty pulled three points back for Harlequins, the visitors were then down to 14 men when Sinckler was sin-binned.
Mugford slotted the penalty over to once again open up a nine-point lead before Mat Luamanu's sending off cost Harlequins as they chased a way back into the match.
For Sale Sharks:
Pens: Mugford 4
Yellow cards: Jonathan Mills (Sale Sharks, 32); Owen Evans (Harlequins, 49); Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 56)
Red card: Mathew Luamanu (Harlequins, 70)
Sale Sharks: 15 Byron McGuigan, 14 Will Addison, 13 Sam James, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Paolo Odogwu, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Josh Beaumont (captain), 7 David Seymour, 6 TJ Ioane, 5 Jonathan Mills, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Cameron Neild, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Kieran Longbottom, 19 Andrei Ostrikov, 20 Laurence Pearce, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Dan Mugford, 23 Nev Edwards.
Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care (captain), 8 Jack Clifford, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 James Horwill, 4 Sam Twomey, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Will Collier, 19 James Chisholm, 20 Mat Luamanu, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Winston Stanley.
Referee: Thomas Foley