Sale 18 Wasps 12: Larrechea's boot fits in tight battle for Sale

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It was a squeeze, an almighty squeeze, but Sale overhauled Wasps to move to second in the Premiership table behind Bristol, at Edgeley Park last night. Wasps were in defensive mood, allowing Sale little chance of scoring any tries, though a last-minute dropped goal by Dave Walder earned them a bonus point. Four penalties and a dropped goal by Daniel Larrechea and a penalty by Lee Thomas put Sale out of reach in a thrillingly tight game.

Kingsley Jones, the Sale head coach, said: "We knew this was going to be tight. Wasps are a most difficult side, but we got there just about and we're are looking forward to going to Bristol next Friday just one point in arrears of them."

The home side began unsure of what they wanted to do. A series of line-outs put the game in Wasps' hands. Each time one was won, the ball went to ground and Wasps drove over it, their bigger forwards committing Sale to scrap.

Gradually the tempo increased for the Wasps full-back Jeremy Staunton to kick a penalty. Sale then put together the best move of the game, when Jason White broke clear for Wasps to fall offside and Daniel Larrechea to square things with a penalty goal, the first quarter ending at 3-3.

Larrechea started the next with a second penalty, but after a spell of pressure, Larrechea dropped a high ball and Staunton kicked the goal. Back came the irrepressible Larrechea with a third - the ball hit an upright - but he scored with a dropped goal and half-time arrived at 12-6 to Sale.

Staunton kept Wasps hopes alive with a third penalty, but no sooner had he scored than Larrechea struck another penalty and at 15-9 it was still anyone's game. Larrechea then went off to be replaced by Thomas. His first bright strike was to drop for goal but it sailed wide as did Staunton's penalty, so it was left to Walder to earn Wasps some credibility.

Sale: Penalties Larrechea 4, Thomas; Drop goal Larrechea. Wasps: Penalties Staunton 3; Drop goal Walder.

Sale: J Robinson (capt); B Foden, M Taylor, E Seveali'i, O Ripol; D Larrechea ( L Thomas, 54), R Wigglesworth; E Roberts (B Stewart, 63), S Bruno (A Titterrell, 62), B Stewart (B Evans, h-t), I Fernandez Lobbe, C Day ( D Schofield, h-t), J White, J Fernandez Lobbe, S Chabal (M Hills, 78).

Wasps: J Staunton; E Thrower, A Erinle, F Waters, T Voyce; A King (D Walder, 69), S Amor (E Reddan, 72); T Payne, J Ward, P Bracken (P Vickery, h-t), S Shaw, R Birkett (T Palmer, 69), G Skivington, J O'Connor, L Dallaglio (capt, J Haskel, 64).

Referee: C White (Cheltenham).