Plymouth undone by Parkes's indiscipline

Sale 38 - Plymouth Albion 18
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The Independent Online

Plymouth Albion left Edgeley Park with their heads held high after playing a full part in this sparkling Powergen Cup sixth-round tie which, if Albion had been able to reproduce their first-half performance, might have finished with a narrower margin. Against last season's losing finalists, Albion, who previously had lost only three games this year, were competitive until the sin-binning of Dan Parkes.

Plymouth Albion left Edgeley Park with their heads held high after playing a full part in this sparkling Powergen Cup sixth-round tie which, if Albion had been able to reproduce their first-half performance, might have finished with a narrower margin. Against last season's losing finalists, Albion, who previously had lost only three games this year, were competitive until the sin-binning of Dan Parkes.

"That hardly helped us," said Albion's player-coach, Graham Dawe. "But we were caught napping by Sale's pick-and-drive play. It was a great effort by our boys and they will be all the better for the experience"

While Parkes was serving his time, Sale scored two tries and never looked back, even though there were times when they were far from comfortable.

This was not surprising given that Philipe Saint-André chose to rest among others Charlie Hodgson and Jason Robinson, and give an opportunity to some of his promising academy youngsters, like Matt Riley and Jason Duffy. Inevitably, Sale took their time to settle, despite the encouragement of a spectacular early try by Steve Hanley.

Saint-André was more pleased that his squad managed to stay injury-free ahead of their Premiership game against Bath in a week's time. "We never underestimated Plymouth, and gave them every respect," said the Sharks' director of rugby, "but we should have been more clinical, especially in the first half."

Plymouth showed no sign of stage fright, even though they were cut open by Hanley's try within two minutes of the start. As if to show that they can also play it fast and loose, Plymouth scored an absolute screamer of a try, which had classic back-row beginnings with Martin Schusterman's neat side-step and culminated in Lee Robinson going across in the right corner.

James Pritchard gilded the moment with a successful conversion and he also kicked two penalties, though with Peter Anglesea's first try and a conversion and two penalties from Mike Hercus, Sale were ahead 18-13 at the break.

Four minutes into the second half, the game turned on Parkes's yellow card for illegal use of the boot and within seconds Sale had extracted full advantage from the extra man by driving Andrew Sheridan across. They then pushed their lead to 30-13 with another close-range try scored by the effervescent Anglesea. Albion were heading for the exit.

Remarkably, Sale allowed them to stay in the game. With a rash of replacements, the Sharks began to lose their shape and Albion seized the initiative to remind the locals that when a Robinson grabs two tries, it is not necessarily Jason, Lee Robinson racing into the right corner.

A third Hercus penalty was not quite the knock-out blow; that was delivered by Hanley in stoppage time with another try.

Sale: Tries Hanley 2, Anglesea 2, Sheridan; Conversions Hercus 2; Penalties Hercus 3. Plymouth Albion: Tries Robinson 2; Conversion Pritchard; Penalties Pritchard 2.

Sale: M Cueto (M Riley 63); J Moore, J Baxendell (J Duffy 77), C Rhys Jones, S Hanley; M Hercus, R Wigglesworth; A Sheridan, S Bruno, M Halsall (B Stewart 59), C Jones, P Caillet (S Cox 53), P Anglesea (capt), J Carter (A Titterrell 73), S Chabal.

Plymouth Albion: M Carrington (G Gelderbloom 62); L Robinson, J Fabian, L Arscott, J Pritchards; E Barnes, N Cane (B Shelbourne 73); D Parkes, S Pearl (G Dawe 59), T Paoletti, R Hunt (A Perry h-t), D Ward-Smith, M Schusterman, D Thomas (R Hopkins 49-59; B Luxton 60), A To'oola (C Lowrie 77).

Referee: M Poite (France).

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