Sharks left most of the 5,757 crowd stunned by a ten point scoring burst in the final three minutes of the first half, to go down the tunnel 18-10 ahead. Skipper Peel had led the way as early as the third minute, when he collected a Humphreys diagonal kick and ran fully 65 metres down the right wing to score a try in his sixth outing of the season.
Although Cipriani missed the difficult conversion attempt, his distribution skills were quickly in evidence. A sixth minute move involving Powell and Addison was halted by crossing but the fly half added a long distance penalty twelve minutes later for an 8-0 lead.
Irish, with Geraghty always dangerous, posed the visiting defence several problems and they held out until 23 minutes. Shepherd stopped Humphreys in his tracks but the ball found its way to impressive Irish flanker Garvey, who was unstoppable. Humphreys converted to reduce the arrears to a single point.
Sharks continued to show attacking initiative, as on the half hour mark where Peel took a quick tap penalty, setting up Miller for a move which sadly ended in a knock on. The deadly boot of Humphreys put Irish 10-8 up when the visiting scrum was penalised a minute later, but the Sharks ended the half in fine style.
With three minutes till the break, it was the Sharks' turn to be awarded a penalty at scrum time, Cipriani sending the kick over to restore the lead. In the 39th minute, excellent attacking play from Amesbury and Miller set up Cipriani for his second try for the club. The scorer converted his effort from out wide, and there was still time for Humphreys to miss his only kick of the match before the half time whistle, with the Madejski scoreboard showing 10-18.
Sale Sharks continued to attack after the break, with Cipriani adding his third penalty of the afternoon with the half four minutes old.
Irish, with former Saint Shane Geraghty in fine form at centre, scored 24 points within a 26-minute spell to take them significantly ahead. The scoring burst started on 51 minutes, when a high Miller clearance kick was caught. The ball went right to Ojo who found Skivington in support for a try. Humphreys added the conversion.
The Sharks' scrum had difficult moments during the second half, with the home forwards very effective in the loose. There was a spell round about the hour mark where the Sharks struggled at four successive scrums on their own 5 metre line. Even though Tony Buckley was introduced to add his experience, the Irish continued to set up camp dangerously near the Sharks' line.
When the ball left the home forwards, Amesbury saved the day with a fine challenge on Tagicakibau. It seemed that the storm had been weathered, but the Sharks fell for a sucker punch on 65 minutes when Irish switched the play with a kick across the defence which found home flanker Garvey free in the left corner. Humphreys converted then added a 76th minute penalty, a minute before debutant Cruse unfortunately set up Geraghty for a breakaway interception try to take the gap to thirteen points.
With the two tries, Sharks had themselves to blame, but the spirit and invention within the side was illustrated in the final minute, when after a free flowing move, McKenzie and Uys combined to send Charlie Amesbury in at the left corner. Miller produced an excellent conversion from the touchline to again leave players, management and supporters wondering "what might have been".
Steve Diamond commented, "We should have won. Some of our players showed naivety by losing control. We gave nineteen soft points away. We'll lick our wounds and look to come back strong on Friday."
Scoring (Irish first): 0-5, 0-8, 7-8, 10-8, 10-11, 10-18 (Half Time) 10-21, 17-21, 24-21, 27-21, 34-21, 34-28.
Sale Sharks: 15.Rob Miller, 14.Charlie Amesbury, 13.Will Addison, 12.Mark Jennings, 11.Cameron Shepherd, 10.Danny Cipriani, 9.Dwayne Peel (capt.), 1.Ross Harrison, 2.Tommy Taylor, 3.Vadim Cobilas, 4.Fraser McKenzie, 5.James Gaskell, 6.Andy Powell, 7.Richie Vernon, 8.Mark Easter
Replacements: 16.Tom Cruse for Taylor (72), 17.James Flynn for Harrison (74), 18.Tony Buckley for Cobilas (57), 19.Kearnan Myall for Powell (30), 20.Will Bordill (not used), 21.Will Cliff for Peel (72), 22.Jordan Davies (not used), 23.Corne Uys for Cipriani (74)
Sharks' second game in the LV= Cup will be at home to Saracens next Friday, 16th November, kick off 8.00pm.
As Sale Sharks v Saracens falls on Children in Need day, we're giving away 1 FREE junior ticket with every full-priced adult ticket purchased for the match! Season ticket holders can also bring a friend(s) for only £5, regardless of the stand! All we ask is that you make a donation to Children in Need at the game.
To claim either of these fantastic offers, email email@example.com and include your name and contact telephone number.
|London Irish Score Card|
|Sale Sharks Score Card|