Sale Sharks vs Stade Francais Paris 23/24 Report

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28 Sale Sharks
5 Stade Francais Paris

Sun 10 Dec 1:00pm Salford City Stadium Attendance: 0

Sale Sharks vs Stade Francais Paris

Sale Sharks started their Investec Champions Cup campaign with an impressive win over Stade Francais.

Stade scored the only try of the first half through Jeremy Ward but two penalties by George Ford put the Sharks ahead at half-time.

Tries from Tom O’Flaherty, Jonny Hill and Sam Dugdale in the second period ensured Sale ran out comfortable winners in their Pool 4 opener.

However, Alex Sanderson’s side missed out on a fourth score and bonus point.

Sale next face a difficult away trip to 2023 runners-up Leinster on Saturday, while Stade welcome Leicester Tigers to Paris.

Sale, who are top of the Premiership, came into the game in good form despite a heavy 36-3 defeat by Harlequins on 1 December.

The Sharks started the faster of the two sides and nearly scored only for full-back Joe Carpenter to knock on when attempting to ground the ball.

Despite dominating the early period, Sale only led through a Ford penalty and the French side punished the lack of clinical edge with some sharp hands sending Ward into space to score the opening try.

Stade Francais made 11 changes from their impressive 27-12 win over Toulouse in the Top 14, leaving out England centre Joe Marchant – indicating a potential focus on their domestic campaign with the French side three points off leaders Racing 92.

The Sharks welcomed back England centre Manu Tuilagi from a hand injury for his first match since the World Cup and the 32-year-old showed no signs of any rustiness, helping to win a penalty through a strong carry, which Ford converted to take the lead at the break.

Winger O’Flaherty, who came into the starting XV, grabbed Sale’s first try early in the second period after neat hands before Hill and Dugdale went over from close range.

Sanderson said last week that Tuilagi had a “‘few more years in him” and that comment looked accurate after a robust and physical 80-minute performance from the centre.

Sale could not manage the bonus-point score and with last season’s finalists, Leinster and La Rochelle, to come every point may count for qualification hopes.

The four highest-placed teams in each of the six-team pools will qualify for the last 16 in April.

Sale head coach Sanderson said: “We attacked the game and went at them. We had to wear a few early on with a couple of injuries and head knocks and the odd try disallowed which can energise a team and can take away from the kind of start that we wanted to maintain.

“It did not phase us one bit. We just kept going and going. I was really happy with that over the 80 minutes which is what you need against these good teams.”

Sale: Carpenter; Roebuck, James, Tuilagi, O’Flaherty; Ford, Warr; McIntyre, Taylor, Schonert, Bamber, Hill, Dugdale, B Curry, Du Preez

Replacements: Creevy, Harrison, Opoku-Fordjour, Wiese, Beaumont, Quirke, Curtis, Doherty

Stade Francais: Barre; Hamdaoui, Ward, Boudehent, Dakuwaqa; Segonds, Zabalza; Castets, Peyresblanques, Alo-Emile, Azagoh, Van der Mescht, Ory, Chapuis, Hirigoyen

Replacements: Meite, Abramishvili, Kodela, Gabrillagues, Pesenti, Gimbert, Halaifonua, Etien

Referee: Mike Adamson

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