Sale Sharks vs Wasps match report: Christian Wade in deep water again as basic errors make it too easy for Sharks

Sale Sharks 25 Wasps 14

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The Independent Online

Christian Wade was put on this rugby earth to ground the ball over the opposition line in eye-catching style and the England wing in waiting was at it again today, leaving a variety of Sale forwards clutching handfuls of fresh air while bagging one of those trademark “subterranean scuttle” tries that almost beggar belief. Unfortunately, the Wasps finisher is nowhere near as accomplished when it comes to touching down over his own line, and for this reason he may have to wait a little longer for a first cap.

Four minutes before the interval, with the visitors 7-5 to the good, their scrum-half Charlie Davies had a clearance kick charged down by his opposite number, the rather more celebrated Scotland international Chris Cusiter, and the ball bounced into the in-goal area. Wade could have been a quarter as quick as he is and still been a short-odds favourite to tidy things up with time to spare, yet he botched the simplest of operations and presented Cusiter with an unexpected score that gave Sale all the momentum they needed.

This would have been embarrassing enough for Wade had it been a one-off. Unfortunately, it was a carbon copy of the sin he committed against Harlequins a couple of weeks previously. Wasps might well have won that derby at The Stoop but for his failure to perform a basic defensive duty, and they might well have won today but for his second faux pas. He is currently costing his side points that ultimately lead to prizes and cannot, just at the moment, be rated ahead of Semea Rokoduguni of Bath, another uncapped challenger for England duty.

Neither of these two sides will be pushing terribly hard for honours on this evidence. The first half was too dire for words – the sewage works situated a short distance from the stadium was redundant in the rugby sense, because the product was wholly untreatable – and while the quality improved significantly after the break, there was nothing much to recommend the contest beyond the odd flash of something different from the Sale outside-half Danny Cipriani and the Wasps centre Alapati Leiua – two Harrods players stuck in a Poundland environment.

 

Sale won for two reasons. Firstly, they skinned Wasps bare on the floor: Magnus Lund, Dave Seymour and the turnover specialist Mark Easter had all manner of fun at the visitors’ expense the moment a breakdown situation arose. Secondly, they were aided and abetted by the Londoners’ decision to travel light, without forwards as influential as the lock Joe Launchbury and the back-rower James Haskell.

Steve Diamond, the home side’s rugby director, was certainly of the view that player rotation had cost Wasps dear. “They thought they could win with what they brought up here and we had to deny them that,” he said. “I don’t have a squad big enough make rotation an option, and anyway I believe mid-table clubs have to put their best sides out week on week because everyone in our area of the league can beat everyone else.

“We needed this win because it’s important for us to make teams not want to play us up here. There comes a point when the talking and coaching has to stop and the players are left to go out there and deliver. They did that today.”

Diamond’s opposite number, David Young, flatly denied that he was operating anything resembling a rotation policy, talking instead of his “duty of care” towards front-line personnel who could not realistically be expected to play with minor injuries in the opening weeks of a long campaign. Young was, however, bitterly disappointed at the error-ridden nature of his side’s defeat.

Joe Simpson’s missed tackle allowed Tom Arscott a soft try as early as the fifth minute, while Tom Brady’s wrap-up score deep in the final quarter was the result of the latest of several handling errors by the Wasps No 8 Nathan Hughes, together with the visitors’ collective tardiness in sensing danger from a quick Sale throw-in after Will Helu had run the ball into touch.

It remains to be seen whether Wasps can build on their bright early-season performances against Saracens and Northampton, but it is reasonable to predict that Sale will be increasingly difficult to beat at home once the likes of Daniel Braid, Sam Tuitupou and Nathan Hines return to full fitness.

One of their missing links, the hooker Marc Jones, was back in action today and he played his part in a strong scrummaging performance. Diamond was delighted to see him on the field, not least because “he really does give a s*** about the shirt”. What was that about the sewage works?

Scorers: Sale – Tries Arscott, Cusiter, Brady. Conversions Cipriani 2. Penalty Cipriani. Drop goal Cipriani. Wasps – Tries Hughes, Wade. Conversions Goode, Miller.

Sale L McLean; T Brady, J Leota, M Jennings (M Cueto 72), T Arscott; D Cipriani, C Cusiter (W Cliff 72); R Harrison (E Lewis-Roberts 68), M Jones, V Cobilas (A De Marchi 71), J Mills (J Beaumont 56), M Paterson, M Lund (V Fihaki 56) , D Seymour (capt), M Easter.

Wasps R Miller; C Wade, A Leiua, C Bell (capt), W Helu; A Goode (A Masi 65), C Davies (J Simpson 1-11 and 53); J Yapp (M Mullan 49), C Festuccia, J Cooper-Woolley (L Cittadini 60), J Gaskell, J Cannon (B Davies 53), A Johnson, G Thompson (S Jones 53), N Hughes.

Referee L Pearce (Devon).

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