Sale Sharks flew out to Geneva the day before the game and stayed at a hotel in the town of Oyonnax, 23 miles over the Swiss border. The freezing cold temperatures greeted the players when they arrived and they were unable to have the customary run out on the pitch as it was protected by a huge cover with heat being blown over the surface to stop it from freezing. The 8-45pm (local time) wasn't moved despite Sharks request as the overnight temperatures in Oyonnax had fallen to lows of -13 centigrade over the previous nights.
Nick Macleod kicked off but Sharks were soon behind when an error by Marc Jones who tried to kick a loose ball away put pressure on the Sharks defence. Sharks were forced to give away a penalty which Benjamin Urdapilleta kicked easily 0-3.
In Sale's first attack Tom Brady and Mark Jennings combined well and Jennings almost scored but knocked on in the process of touching down.
Sale were playing some very attractive flowing rugby and opened their account on 13 minutes with a clever defence splitting kick by Rob Miller bounced nicely for Phil MacKenzie who caught the ball and sent his opposite number the wrong way and touched down. The Italian referee went to the TMO for a second opinion and seemed out of breath as he asked for help! Macleod converted and Sharks led 7-3
On 17 minutes Oyonnax were awarded another penalty which Urdapilleta kicked with ease. 7-6 The home side buoyed by this scored their first ever try in the Amlin Cup on 20 minutes when Figeurola took a quick tap penalty and darted in for a score. Urdapilleta converted and the home side led 7-13.
Sale were being drawn into a physical battle and the referee was lenient on the home sides infringements but the Sharks were being hammered in the penalty count. On 27 minutes Sale had a scare when James Gaskell landed awkwardly at the ruck and needed lengthy treatment from Dr Allen and Tom O'Malley before resuming. Gaskell was soon back in the thick of things and almost scored when he hacked a ball ahead but it bounced into touched as he raced to try and pick up the bouncing ball.
Sale were putting some good phases together but the home defence was very solid and well drilled. For the home side Silvere Tian had a good first half with some excellent runs and a clever tactical kicking game.
Half Time Oyonnax 13 Sale Sharks 7
Oyonnax enjoyed the best of the play in the opening minutes of the second half before Sharks settled and set about building some phases of their own. Oyonnax replaced both props within ten minutes of the restart in an effort to bolster their scrum.
Oyonnax were equal to Sharks attacking force and absorbed the pressure before breaking downfield. There was a fracas on 52 minutes with players from both sides swapping punches, the replay showed that one of the Oyonnax players had a go at Mark Jennings who retaliated. Oyannax were awarded two quick penalties and the referee was made another check with the TMO as Oyonnax thought Jonny Leota and Mark Jennings had impeded an Oyonnax player going for the ball. The TMO ruled not guilty and the rugby continued.
The penalty count was mounting against Sale and thankfully the home side chose to tap and go with most of the penalties whereas it might have been more sensible to kick for goal. Sale were having territorial problems as most of the play was in their own 22 as the clock was winding down.
Steve Diamond introduced several substitutes in an effort to freshen things up but both Jonny Loata (facial) and Phil MacKenzie (hand) were injured as the Sharks were frantically defending. Leota's injury looked quite serious and it was hoped it wasn't the same injury he picked up at Gloucester on the opening day of the season. Dr Allen led Leota from the field and the Samoan looked in a lot of discomfort.
Mark Easter who had only been on the field a matter of minutes had to go off with a leg injury and the Sale Scrum was having to regroup and multi task. Dan Braid went to Number 8, Tommy Taylor to Flanker and James Flynn went to Hooker.
On 74 minutes Sale were penalised at the scrum for not binding properly and substitute Nicolas Vuillemin kicked a crucial penalty to put the home side 7-16 ahead and more importantly Sale were out of losing bonus point range. However with the very last play of the game Joe Ford slotted a perfect drop goal for what could be a crucial bonus point at the final reckoning.
Final score Oyonnax 16 Sale Sharks 10
Sale Sharks: Rob Miller; Tom Brady (off 54mins), Mark Jennings, Johnny Leota (off 65mins), Phillip Mackenzie (off 65mins); Nick MacLeod, Will Cliff; Ross Harrison, Marc Jones, Vadim Cobilas, Andrei Ostrikov, Michael Paterson, Dan Braid (c), David Seymour, James Gaskell
Replacements: Tommy Taylor (on for Jones 54mins), James Flynn (on for Easter 65mins), Tony Buckley (on for Cobilas 65mins), Jon Mills (on for Ostrikov 54mins), Mark Easter (on for Gaskell 59-65mins, off 65mins), Joe Ford (on for Leota 65, Andy Forsyth (on for Mackenzie 65mins), Michael Haley (on for Brady 54mins)
Scoring Sequence (Oyonnax first): 3-0, 3-5, 3-7, 6-7, 11-7, 13-7 (Half Time) 16-7, 16-10
SALE SHARKS NEXT HOME GAME IS ON FRIDAY 13TH DECEMBER WHEN THEY ENTERTAIN OYONNAX IN THE AMLIN CHALLENGE CUP IN A MUST WIN GAME . TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE BY PHONING 08444-994-994. YOU CAN REQUEST A CALLBACK BY EMAILING firstname.lastname@example.org
|Oyonnax Score Card|
|Sale Sharks Score Card|