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Rugby Union: New Sale unveil a winning Brand

Sale 16 Wasps 8
IT WAS billed as an Allied Dunbar Premiership match between the re-branded Sale Sharks and Wasps and finished as a marketing executive's dream. If Jo Brand could have launched her career with the certainty that Janneman Brand initiated his in the First Division, after only a minute of being on the field as a replacement against Wasps, the applause that heralded the South African's match-winning try at Heywood Road would be ringing in the comedienne's ears every time she stepped on stage. On such unhesitating accomplishments are dreams and reputations built.

Janneman Brand's reputation began to build at Stellenbosch University and his dream of playing big-time rugby continued with the Northern Bulls in the Super 12 competition where Sale's director of rugby, Adrian Hadley, spotted Brand and persuaded him to try his hand in England.

Before Brand stamped his indelible mark on proceedings, a sparse crowd had to endure 67 minutes of dross. A first half of tedium produced a solitary touchdown, which was the end product of a poor tackle by Matt Moore, who allowed Fraser Waters to escape. From the ensuing ruck, Josh Lewsey scrambled over the Sale line. But at least there was a try. Alex King missed the conversion and Steve Davidson failed with two penalties; otherwise there had been no hint of a score.

Wasps were missing five players on World Cup duty, though this could only partly explain their lack of ambition and poor communication. Sale, on the other hand, were still trying to get to know one another after a summer clear-out which has seen their playmaker-in-chief, Shane Howarth, depart, along with nine other first-choice players. Add to this the long- term injury to their leading try scorer Steve Hanley and Sale were clearly the more disadvantaged of the two teams. But, of course, Sale had Brand in their side.

King and Davidson exchanged penalties, before Davidson put Sale a point clear with two more penalties. Sale then revealed their mystery shark. With one bite, the rangy No 8 settled it by running in a try from 30 metres. First victory for the new Brand.

Sale: Try Brand; Conversion Davidson; Penalties Davidson 3. Wasps: Try Lewsey; Penalty: King.

Sale: J Mallinder; M Moore, B-J Mather, A Blyth, S Davidson; J Baxendell (capt), C Saverimutto; P Smith (P Winstanley, 41), S Diamond, D Williamson, A Whittle (C Murphy, 50), D Baldwin, P Angelsea, A Sanderson, G Manson- Bishop (J Brand, 67).

Wasps: J Ufton; P Sampson, F Waters, R Henderson (M Denney, 63), J Lewsey; A King, M Wood; A Le Chevalier, D Macer (D Alexopolous, 72), W Green (E Webb, 80), M Weedon (capt), S Shaw, E Rollitt, P Volley, P Scrivener.

Referee: C White (Cheltenham).