Pontypridd 22, Sale Sharks 25
Dan Harris returned to his roots to break Pontypridd hearts as Sale Sharks carried off the European Parker Pen Shield in Oxford.Harris, who was educated at Magdalen College, came off the bench to win the day for the Sharks with a try nine minutes from time.It capped a remarkable comeback for the English Premiership side who trailed Ponty 15-3 at half-time. But if the first half belonged to Ponty, the second was very much Sale's.Ponty made the best possible start to this highly charged occasion at the Kassam Stadium. Around 12,000 fans flocked to the new-look stadium in the heart of student country - a record crowd for the state of the art arena.And it was the 800 or so Ponty fans who were cheering their hearts out when Brett Davey stepped up to convert a second minute penalty when Sale were caught stamping at a ruck.Fly half Ceri Sweeney doubled that advantage with a drop goal four minutes later and it was 9-0 on 13 minutes when Davey popped over his second penalty of the afternoon.Charlie Hodgson, who finished with 10 points, pulled back three with his first of two penalties, but Davey made no mistake with his kick on 26 minutes as Ponty turned the screw.Sale were finding it difficult to compete with a rampant Ponty pack and their plight was certainly hindered when Kevin Yates was yellow carded for tipping Brett Cockbain at the line out. Davey kicked a fourth penalty eight minutes before the break that gave the Welsh club a 12 point lead.With the wind behind them, Sale picked up the pace in the second half and Hodgson's penalty on 42 minutes put them within nine points at 15-6. That was effectively the turning point as, from that moment, the Manchester side took control.Martin Shaw cut through to score his side's first try and although Hodgson missed that conversion, he was spot on with his next after Steve Hanley rounded the Ponty cover to cross for a second.Ponty looked somewhat shell-shocked by the double whammy, but regained their poise on 67 minutes when they struck back with a try that redressed the balance once again.Choosing to kick a penalty to touch, they reaped the rewards when a rolling maul from the ensuing line out saw Mefin Davies bundled over for a try that Ponty converted through the reliable boot of Davey to send the Ponty fans went wild.
But after being introduced into the attack 10 minutes from time, Harris was sent through a gaping hole to cross for the conclusive try that Hodgson duly improved.It was a stunning occasion and a final to befit the competition.
Sale Sharks:Tries: M Shaw, S Hanley, D Harris; Cons: Hodgson 2; Pens: C Hodgson 2
Pontypridd: Try: M Davies; Con: B Davey; Pens: B Davey 4; DG: C Sweeney.Season Tickets are available for the 2013-2014 season and can be purchased by phoning 08444-994-994. They can also be purchased on line at http://www.salesharks.com/tickets/season.php . If you have a specific query or want a callback please email firstname.lastname@example.org.