Little keeps Sharks in the hunt

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The four-try bonus point may remain as illusive as a National Lottery bonus ball, but after completing a West Country double, perennial strugglers Sale must have had that millionaire feeling last night. After pipping Bath by a single point last week, they repeated the trick to defeat Gloucester at Kingsholm.

The four-try bonus point may remain as illusive as a National Lottery bonus ball, but after completing a West Country double, perennial strugglers Sale must have had that millionaire feeling last night. After pipping Bath by a single point last week, they repeated the trick to defeat Gloucester at Kingsholm.

After their takeover by Brian Kennedy, the Cheshire side for once have some money behind them, and coach Glenn Ross now has sufficient resources to be able to make seven changes to a winning team. Gloucester, after mid-week scare stories of a 15-man injury-list, showed just three new faces from the XV that shipped 50 points in their opener at Saracens. The home side badly missed their first-choice decision makers, half-back pairing Elton Moncrieff and Simon Mannix, as they badly lacked the fluency that helped them to third spot last season.

In a sterile first half, the early points came from an exchange of penalties between Sales' Niki Little and Mannix's replacement, Byron Hayward. The Gloucester man's penalty had come after Sale were whistled for delay at a scrum, yet another of the visitors' setpieces that proved a regular source of danger, possession or penalties for their hosts. With the Sharks' line-out showing all the order and co-ordination of a taxi-queue at chucking-out time, it mattered little to Gloucester, who had the throw and it was no surprise that the lone try of the first half arrived via a line-out five minutes from the break.

Home hooker, Jawad Djoudi, currently awaiting RFU trial on head-butting charges, was held up over the line after Franck Schisano's break and having won a penalty at the ensuring series of scrums, Gloucester kicked to touch five metres out. Mark Cornwell took Djoudi's throw and flanker Jake Boer was driven over in straightforward fashion.

Afterwards, Ross, admitted his side had been intimidated by the presence of Ian Jones in the Gloucester line-out. He said: "We can put some passages of the game together and things look good but when we get to re-start situations we cough the ball and we are back in a defensive situation, which we seem to be revelling in at the moment.

"But we won't go far in the season if we continue having to defend as much as we did today."

Sale responded with their best spell of pressure either side of the interval, triggered by a break from Jos Baxendell, captain last season but not even on the bench last week. Terry Fanolua prevented Vaughan Going from scoring the try, but after battering away for several minutes, the visitors added a second Little penalty to trail 10-6 at half time.

The Sharks picked up where they left off, pinning Gloucester back for Little to kick two further penalties - one of them off a post - to leave the home side chasing the game at 10-12. They huffed and puffed but lacked the wit to break down a Sale side who went further, decisively ahead in the 79th minute when Going finished off a chance created by Little. The Fijian stand-off converted for 19-10 and although Gloucester hit back with a Hayward penalty and a try from Schisano five minutes into injury-time, the narrowest of conversion misses by Hayward ensured justice was done by the feintest of margins.

Gloucester: T Fanolua; R Jewell, J Ewens, C Yates, F Schisano; B Hayward, I Sanders; O Azam, J Djoudi, A Powles, M Cornwell (R Fidler, 45), I Jones (capt), S Ojomoh, J Paramor, J Boer (K Jones, 54).

Sale: V Going; M Moore, J Baxendell, D Harris (S Davidson, 61), S Hanley; N Little, S Hatley (B Redpath, 45); P Winstanley (A Black, 61), B Jackman, D Bell (J Thiel, 45), G Manson-Bishop (S Lines, 75), A Whittle, P Anglesea, A Sanderson (capt), R Appleyard.

Referee: G Aston-Jones (WRU).

Comments