Sharks travelled to South Wales on Friday afternoon in a blizzard ahead of their final group game in this season's Heineken Cup against Cardiff Blues. The journey took over six hours from Manchester.
Sharks prepared for this game using the 3G pitches at the Salford City Stadium as the pitches at their Carrington training base were frozen solid.
Cardiff were enduring a long losing run in the Heineken Cup having lost their last six games.
This was the sixth meeting between the sides in the Heineken Cup with the home side winning every game. Earlier this season, Sharks looked out of it at half time but an inspired performance by substitute Danny Cipriani saw Sharks win 34-33.
The game at Cardiff Arms Park kicked off because of a massive amount of work the home club and their supporters had put in to clear snow, not only from the pitch but from the terracing and approach walkways.
Sharks had a dream start to the game going ahead on 3 minutes. Blues put the kick off straight into touch and Rob Miller kicked the ball into touch 10m from the Blues line. From a rolling maul formed after the resultant, Tommy Taylor scored a try. Rob Miller converted and Sharks delighted their travelling fans by taking a 0-7 lead.
Captain David Seymour was leading his troops by example and was a thorn in the Blues side with his disruptive ways.
Blues then got several penalty calls from referee Fitzgibbon which Halfpenny accepted gratefully, kicking 3 from 4.
Sale Sharks had a second try turned down when they charged down a Halfpenny clearance. Mark Jennings touched down and whilst referee Fitzgibbon gave the try, he took advice from his touch judge and reversed his decision.
Rob Miller was enjoying his role at fly half busying himself and his kicking from handmade valuable metres for Sale Sharks.
HT Cardiff Blues 9 Sale Sharks 7
Sharks started the second half the way they had the first with a great try, this time from Aston Croall. Rob Miller converted to put Sale Sharks back into the lead 9-14.
The lead was however short lived as Man of the Match Lloyd Williams broke free from a ruck, chipped Cameron Shepherd, re-gathered the ball and touched down. Halfpenny converted and Bluies were back in front on 44 minutes 16-14.
Sharks enjoyed a lot of territorial advantage over the next half hour but were unable to add to their 14 points due to resolute defending by the home side. Cardiff weathered the storm well and on 75 minutes Patterson scored the Blues second try which Halfpenny converted. There was just time for Halfpenny to kill off any hopes of a losing bonus point for Sharks with a penalty on 79 minutes.
Final Score Cardiff Blues 26 Sale Sharks 14
Sale Sharks 15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Jordan Davies, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Charlie Amesbury, 10 Rob Miller, 9 Will Cliff, 1 Aston Croall, 2 Tommy Taylor, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 4 Tom Holmes, 5 Kearnan Myall, 6 James Doyle, 7 David Seymour Captain, 8 Richie Vernon
Replacements 16 Marc Jones (replaced Taylor on 67mins), 17 Ross Harrison (Replaced Croall on 58mins), 18 Eifion Lewis Roberts(Replaced Cobilas on 48mins), 19 Richie Gray (Replaced Myall on 74mins), 20 Tom Cruse, 21 Nathan Fowles (Replaced Cliff on 67mins), 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Mark Cueto (Replaced Jennings on 48mins)
|Cardiff Blues Score Card|
|Sale Sharks Score Card|