England duo unscathed in Harlequins victory

Harlequins 21 Sale 9
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The Independent Online

Martin Johnson will be a relieved man after two of his key England squad members came through unscathed in a match which Harlequins won at The Stoop in dreadful conditions.

Danny Care, who has featured on the bench for the first two Six Nations matches, and Andrew Sheridan, who is widely expected to come back in at losehead against France on Saturday, both played the majority of the match.

Sheridan required some patching up to an injury sustained above the eye, but the 70 minutes he completed on the pitch will prove he is fit and ready to be back in contention for the starting spot.

Care managed the full game and between him and the outstanding young English fly-half Rory Clegg, they managed to constantly pin Sale back in their own 22 in a match where Harlequins really should have taken home the four-try bonus point.

“Martin Johnson spoke to me before the game and wished me luck and told me just to play my normal game,” said Care.

“It was weird to train with England all week then come here and play for your club but it is great being back out here at The Stoop from a personal point of view it is great to get the full eighty under the belt. The France game next weekend is obviously huge.

“I think we played really well in the Wales and Italy game but it counts for nothing if we do not beat France.

“We are looking for another big performance in front of a packed crowd.”

Despite the presence of two of England's finest, it was England U-20 international Clegg who was the shining light in the midst of the deluge constantly pinning Sale back into their 22.

Harlequins in all fairness should have had the bonus point try within the first twenty minutes of the match.

Ugo Monye squandered a four-man overlap and Mike Brown's pass found touch when hooker Joe Gray had a clear run in.

However, it was Gray who grabbed the first try after thirteen minutes taking advantage of Maurie Fa'asavalu's inside ball to run in through the porous Sale defence.

Harlequins fullback Brown added a try three minutes later, chipping ahead of the opposition and dotting the ball down over the try line.

Despite Harlequins best efforts, they failed to add to the try count and it was left to Clegg and Hodgson to keep the scoreboard ticking over in the atrocious conditions.

Scorers: Harlequins: Gray (13), Brown (16); Conversions: Clegg; Penalties: Clegg 3 Sale: Penalties: Hodgson 3 Harlequins: M Brown; G Camacho (T Williams 71), G Lowe, J Turner-Hall, U Monye; R Clegg, D Care; J Marler (C Jones 61), J Gray (C Brooker 61), J Johnston (M Lambert 71), O Kohn, P Browne (T Vallejos 65); M Fa'asavalu, W Skinner, C Robshaw (capt).

Replacements: C Brooker, C Jones, M Lambert, T Vallejos, C York, D Moore, B Urdapilleta, T Williams.

Sale: R Miller; T Brady, C Bell, K Tonetti (A Tuilagi 58), B Cohen; C Hodgson, W Cliff (C Leck 71); A Sheridan (L Imiolek 71), M Jones (B Roberts 66), H Thomas (J Forster 64); C Jones, W Lewaravu, J Gaskell (capt), C Fearns (N McMillan 71), S Koyamaibole (S Cox 40).

Replacements: B Roberts, L Imiolek, J Forster, S Cox, N McMillan, C Leck, A Tuilagi, W Addison.

Referee: Greg Garner Attendance: 11,852 Harlequins 21-9 Sale