Sale Sharks were looking to bounce back after their narrow defeat to Newcastle Falcons last week. Wasps, renowned for playing fast flowing rugby arrived at the AJ Bell Stadium having lost ten games in a row in all competitions, although the goalpost at Twickenham stopped them recording a victory over Harlequins in the opening round when Andy Goode's last minute conversion hit a post.
Despite a disappointing defeat last Friday, Steve Diamond would have taken pleasure from the fact that Sale had conceded just one try in their opening two games of the season.
The new scrum laws have been making the headlines over the summer, but Wasps seem to have got to grips with the new rules, winning 93% of their own put ins.
Before the kick off both Dwayne Peel (hamstring) and James Gaskell (ankle) were injured in the warm up. Will Cliff moved into the starting role at scrum half with Nathan Fowles joining the bench. Josh Beaumont started at number 8 and Mark Easter was hastily added as a replacement with seconds to go before the referee blew his whistle for the teams to take the field.
Sharks took a little time to settle as expected after the two late, enforced changes, but were first on attack. Andy Forsyth received a pass just inside the Wasps half but couldn't grasp it properly and knocked on.
On 12 minutes Mark Cueto put in a lovely kick behind Christian Wade and Tom Brady chased the ball. Sadly it bounced into touch but Sharks were camped in the Wasps 22. Wasps were forced to make an early change when full back Andrea Masi was helped off with a leg injury and former Shark, Tommy Bell took his place at full back.
Wasps launched a challenge and Andy Goode started a move which went through several pairs of hands before the Sharks defence forced Wasps into making an error. Play was held up on 20 minutes when young Josh Beaumont was helped off in pain with a leg injury and taken straight to the medical room. Mark Easter took the field as his replacement.
The injury crisis deepened for Sale Sharks when fly half Nick Macleod has helped off on 22 minutes with an elbow injury and Danny Cipriani took the field as his replacement. The crowd cheered Cipriani's entry hoping he could us his undoubted skills to help Sharks put some points on the board. Danny got an early opportunity to score on 25 minutes with a 40 metre penalty which he kicked sweetly between the posts 3-0.
Two minutes later Wasps were level when Andy Goode kicked a penalty from 30 metres out straight in front of the posts. 3-3
Mark Cueto started a great move on 29 minutes when he combined with Andy Forsyth and Tom Brady to put pressure on the Wasps line. The visitors defence held firm but they conceded a penalty. Cipriani kicked for touch to set up a line out. Sharks won the line out and set up the driving maul. Sharks seemed to think they had grounded the ball over the line but referee Wigglesworth referred it to the TMO. No try but Sharks had a five metre scrum. Wasps infringed again and Sharks went for the line out. Sharks won the lineout again and moved the ball across the field. Cipriani then skilfully unlocked the defence with a great pass to Mark Cueto who raced in for a try. Cipriani improved the try with his conversion 10-3
Two minutes before the break Wasps infringed again and conceded a penalty on the 22 which Danny Cipriani opted to try and kick. His kick was perfect and Sharks led 13-3.
Half Time Sale Sharks 13 Wasps 3
Sale started the second half well and forced a penalty from Wasps scrum on 43 minutes. Danny Cipriani lined up the kick but slotted it wide 13-3. Sale were soon back on the attack though with Mark Cueto causing havoc with some great breaks. Danny Cipriani looked to have scored a try on 47 minutes when he bravely crashed over. Again referee Wigglesworth went to the TMO. The crowd went mad when the referee raised his arm to signal a try. Cipriani lined up the touchline conversion in complete silence and booted it right between the posts 20-3.
Wasps weren't finished though and put together their best phases on 56 minutes finishing with Ashley Johnson touching down. Andy Goode improved the try and Wasps were back in the game at 20-10.
Cipriani increased Sharks lead just after the hour with a well struck penalty from 35 metres out. 23-10
Wasps were awarded a penalty try on 67 minutes for infringement in the ruck. Goode converted and Wasps edged ever closer at 23-17
Three minutes later Wasps crossed wide left through winger Josh Bassett but Andy Goode's conversion was wide 23-22 with eight minutes remaining.
The crowd were watching the clock run down and there was a big cheer on 79 minutes when referee Wigglesworth awarded Sharks a penalty on 25 metres which Cipriani kicked 26-22
Tom Arscott (Off 54mins, back on 58mins), Rob Miller, Mark Cueto, Andy Forsyth, Tom Brady, Nick Macleod (Off 21mins), Will Cliff. Ross Harrison (Off 63mins), Tommy Taylor, Henry Thomas, Kirill Kulemin (Off 63mins), Michael Paterson, Dan Braid (C), David Seymour, Josh Beaumont (Off 19mins)
Replacements: Marc Jones, Eifion Lewis Roberts (On for Harrison 63mins), Vadim Cobilas, Johnathan Mills (On for Kulemin 63mins), Mark Easter (On for Beaumont 19mins), Nathan Fowles, Danny Cipriani (On for Macleod 21mins), Phil Mackenzie (On for Arscott, blood bin, 54mins)
|Sale Sharks Score Card|
|London Wasps Score Card|