Sale Sharks 25 - 14 Wasps
Wasps left the A.J. Bell Stadium empty-handed, after a disappointing performance against a determined Sale side.
After going eleven points down in the second half, they briefly threatened a comeback with Christian Wade’s try, only to concede a soft try three minutes from time, which denied them even a losing bonus point.
Sale went ahead in the seventh minute, after turning down a kickable penalty, following a scrum inside the Wasps 22. They won the lineout and went through a series of phases, moving play infield and sucking in defenders. They eventually moved the ball back out to the left, where Tom Arscott took advantage of the overlap to go over in the corner. Danny Cipriani’s conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
Wasps’ first attack of the afternoon saw them move the ball out wide to the left, before coming back across the field, where the ball reached Christian Wade. He was only a few metres in from the touchline, and the defence was able to force him out of play, on the Sale 22.
Eight minutes later, Wade was again given the ball, 40 metres out. This time, he beat one tackle and was only brought down deep inside the 22. Wasps were now beginning to build up some momentum with ball in hand and another sustained period of play only ended when James Cannon was unable to gather a low pass, just inside the 22.
Wasps then put together a series of effective catch and drives, to take play deep into the Sale 22. They were all stopped illegally, and Sale lock Michael Patterson was shown a yellow card. From the resultant penalty and lineout, another catch and drive ended with Nathan Hughes going over for a try. Andy Goode’s conversion put Wasps ahead, 13 minutes before halftime. Almost immediately, Christian Wade kicked the ball into touch from an offside position, 35 metres out, 15 metres in from the right touchline. Danny Cipriani went for goal, but was again unable to find the target. A minute later, Will Helu was sent to the sin-bin, after a mid-air collision with Tom Brady. Cipriani had another attempt at the posts, but was again off target.
Four minutes from the break, Sale were gifted a try to put them back in front, after Chris Cusiter charged down Charlie Davies’s clearance kick on the Wasps line. The ball bounced into the in-goal area, where Christian Wade tried to touch down , but was beaten by the bounce. Cusiter followed up, to claim the try, which Cipriani converted, to put his side 12-7 in front.
Inside the final minute of the half, the Wasps scrum was penalised, a few metres inside their half. Cipriani’s fourth unsuccessful kick left the halftime score at 12-7 to the home side.
Three minutes after the break, with the referee playing advantage, following a lineout, Cipriani stretched the lead with a neat drop goal from just outside the Wasps 22.
15-7 became 18-7 after 48 minutes, with another Cipriani penalty after the Wasps scrum offended on their 22.
Six minutes later, Wasps made three substitutions, one of which brought Bradley Davies on for his debut, in place of James Cannon.
Twelve minutes from time, after a largely dreary second half, Wasps finally broke the Sale defence, when Christian Wade wriggled through near the posts for his third try of season, converted by Rob Miller, who had moved up to fly-half, with Andrea Masi coming on at fullback.
Wasps now seemed to be in the ascendancy, but were unable to find the winning score, and the game went away from them, with just over three minutes left. Sale pounced on a handling error in midfield and kicked towards the left corner. Possession was won and the ball was quickly moved out to the right, where Tom Brady finished off a huge overlap to go over near the corner. Cipriani landed the conversion, and the home side were home and dry.