It beggars belief but Sale, without their cornerstone prop, Andrew Sheridan, pushed Wasps from High Wycombe to low Wycombe to win away in the Premiership. For the Mancunians that was cause for a rare celebration.
Steve Diamond, the Sale coach, paid tribute to his two young props, Henry Thomas and Lee Imiolek, who helped to make life intolerable for the Wasps scrum.
Diamond also bemoaned the wretched experience of Sheridan. The England prop arrived home yesterday, after leaving the World Cup in New Zealand following the recurrence of a shoulder injury. Sheridan sees a surgeon tomorrow.
"He could have been managed better," Diamond said. "Andy has played two games in 10 months, both for England, and he's been injured in both. They're under so much pressure to play."
Sale may have had a clearout since last season but they looked the part here, with their forwards dominating and the fly-half Nick Macleod cashing in with five penalties. The only kick he missed rebounded off an upright. Who needs Charlie Hodgson?
Wasps were at the top of the heap after unlikely victories over Saracens and Leicester, the powerhouses from last season, and yesterday they were off to another flier. In the seventh minute the full-back Richard Haughton, fielding a high ball inside his 22, flew past two tacklers and Chris Bell got in at the corner for a wonderful try.
The Wasps back three, of Haughton, Tom Varndell and Christian Wade, is as dangerous as dynamite but with their forwards unable to light the fuse, Sale put the match in their pocket. Fraser McKenzie smashed over four minutes before the break, by which time the visitors were ahead 19-10. With their line-out impregnable, Sale drove David Seymour over for a second try. Such was their confidence that they opted for line-outs rather than the boot of Macleod.
"We were unrecognisable from the team of the last two weeks," said Dai Young, the Wasps coach. "We lacked real energy and were second best in everything."
London Wasps: R Haughton (H Southwell, 40); T Varndell (R Flutey, 63), C Mayor, C Bell, C Wade; R Davis, N Berry; T Payne, R Webber (T Lindsay, 54), B Broster (B Baker, 46), R Filipo (R Birkett, 70), M Wentzel, J Launchbury, J Hart (capt; J Burton, 74), J Poff.
Sale Sharks: R Miller; J Tuculet, A Higgins (K Tonetti, 79), W Addison, C Amesbury (T Brady, 70); N Macleod, D Peel (S Peel, 51); L Imiolek (A Croall, 70), M Jones, H Thomas, F McKenzie, K Myall, J Gaskell, M Easter, D Seymour (capt).
Referee: G Garner (Warwickshire).Reuse content