Good evening, my name is Cristina Leedham and tonight I’ll be taking you through Sale’s Gallagher Premiership clash against reigning champions Harlequins. ‘Quins are coming off the back of maximum points and three big wins out of three so far this season, whereas struggling Sale are languishing towards the bottom of the table after losing their last two matches. A big performance is most certainly needed from Sale tonight.
Team news is in! The Sale squad is much changed to the squad that lost at Gloucester, with Tom Curry and Manu Tuilagi returning from injury. Three changes to the Harlequins side that beat Bristol, with Marcus Smith, James Chisholm and Luke Northmore all earning their first starts of the season.
1 min; As suspected, Sale start strongly. A driving start and 10 phase advantage sees ‘Quins overturn and kick to sidelines. Already this is an incredibly promising match for both sides.
4 mins; A major fight is occurring on the sidelines. Danny Care kicks the ball to Marchant, who is subsequently tackled over the sidelines into touch. Danny Care is pushed away from Sale players and it all kicks off from there. Time is currently off while the referee reviews the footage.
Time is back on; The referee gives both captains a stern talking to and warns that if this animosity continues to boil over, someone will end up in the sin bin. Sale line-out is given.
6 mins; Sale kick. James Chisholm is deemed to be off-feet because he refused to give up the ball. Quirke takes the kick and it is beautifully kicked into the corner.
7 mins; Penalty advantage played. ‘Quins turn the ball over but Sale have the advantage. Sale lineout is given and subsequently played.
8 mins; Knock on. Sale lineout is given and taken by Landon but Du Perez concedes the knock-on. ‘Quins scrum given and quickly taken by Marcus Smith.
10 mins; ‘Quins scrum is re-taken due to a collapsing scrum on Sale’s side. To lighten the slightly frustrating mood around this fixture, Joe Marler is celebrating his 150th Premiership start for Harlequins tonight. A fantastic achievement for (arguably) one of the best English forwards to ever play the game.
12 mins; TRY SALE!!!! Rafi Quirke’s play through the ‘Quins defence opens them right up and his pull up play to Du Perez causes Marcus Smith to majorly misjudge the play. Quirke skips through to receive the ball and goes over for the try.
12 mins; Conversion. Quirke converts a relatively easy ball through the sticks to extend the lead. Sale 7 ‘Quins 0
17 mins; TRY HARLEQUINS!!!!!! Danny Care plays the penalty advantage down the other side of the pitch and Sale are simply too slow to react. Two tries in five minutes from both scrum-halves… what. a. match.
18 mins; Conversion. Marcus Smith converts between the sticks to level the score and keep ‘Quins firmly in the match. Sale 7 ‘Quins 7
20 mins; Line-out. Landon takes and guarantees that everyone at the back has to be involved in the drive towards the try line. Well read by Chisholm but they concede the penalty advantage.
22 mins; Penalty. Wilkinson rightfully chooses to kick between the sticks at converts the kick well. Sale 10 ‘Quins 7
23 mins; Knock-on. Green doesn’t clear his lines properly and his momentum propels him too far forwards to conceed the knock-on. Taken by Danny Care.
24 mins; The choice to start Luke Northmore in midfield rather than Joe Lynagh is an interesting choice from Tabi Matson. It appears that it is more of a physicality choice than a mental choice, and for a game with this much intensity it is the right choice to be making.
26 mins; Scrum. Green runs out of space with the ‘Quins defenders closing in and almost panics. ‘Quins scrum awarded.
27 mins; Penalty kick. Another collapsing scrum costs Sale as Marcus Smith takes it quickly and kicks towards the corner. ‘Quins lineout given.
28 mins; Scrum. Walker takes the lineout quickly but Sale plays the situation well and blocks the ball in to stop all available exit routes for the ball. Sale penalty kick given.
29 mins; Yellow card. ‘Quins overturn the ball and sprints towards the line, but Jono Ross looks to have committed a high tackle on Green. The Referee speaks to video referee and both agree it’s a straight yellow, sending Ross to the sin-bin for 10 mins. The chips are not falling in Sale’s favour tonight.
30 mins; Chance. ‘Quins take advantage of 14 men Sale and go towards the try line, but Dombrandt can’t seem to get a hand to the ball and the knock-on is conceded.
30 mins; Scrum. Sale take the scrum and run with it, gaining the penalty kick to clear their lines. You can virtually hear the sighs of Sale fans as this call is awarded.
31 mins; Line-out. Landon takes the line-out and build-up play is starting to allow Sale to get into a rhythm yet again. However, ‘Quins once again are able to overturn both the ball and the penalty advantage and earn themselves the penalty kick. It’s quickly taken by Green.
33 mins; Line-out. Sale earn themselves the line-out, but are frantic on the ball and lose it to Tyrone Green. Green and Kenningham play off each other and Tuilagi commits another Sale error to earn ‘Quins another penalty kick.
35 mins; TRY HARLEQUINS!!!! Green is having the game of his life. Care passes to Green who sprints for his life down the right hand side. A helping push from Caden Murley ensures he gets himself over the line for a well deserved try.
36 mins; Conversion. Who else but Marcus Smith? It isn’t the easiest of angles but Smith converts it with relative ease between the sticks. Could this be the start of yet another emphatic ‘Quins win? Sale 10 ‘Quins 14
37 mins; Possible injury. Simmons is down for ‘Quins. The replay shows that he’s taken some significant force from Solomonia and medics are testing his ligaments. ‘Quins aren’t readying any impact players to replace, and it looks like he will be ok to continue.
39 mins; Line-out. Sale are now looking frantic on the ball and committing more and more handling errors but are able to gain the line-out.
39 mins; Sin-bin time is up for Jono Ross and he returns to the field. A rather worrying statistic for him is that this is his sixth yellow card in 18 premiership matches. It’s not the best record but it’s also not the worst.
40 mins; TRY SALE!!!! Line-out is quickly taken and a big blue wall drives towards the try line. It’s Jono Ross who brings it to fruition and brings Sale back into contention.
40 mins; Conversion. Quirke converts to level up the scores once again. Sale 14 ‘Quins 14.
HALF-TIME. Sale 14 ‘Quins 14
40 mins; TRY HARLEQUINS!!!! It takes Luke Northmore 5 seconds to take the stray ball from Sale and run it over the line. Is this the fastest try in premiership history? It’s definitely in contention, that’s for sure.
41 mins; Conversion missed. Marcus Smith takes on the mammoth task of trying to bend the ball between the sticks from an almost impossible angle but sends it flying wide. Sale 17 ‘Quins 19.
43 mins; Scrum. Care takes it quickly and passes to Eisterhazen, who drives through the blue wall. Smith takes it on but mishandles it and it goes out for a Sale penalty kick.
45 mins; ‘Quins regain possession and run with it yet again. They are building up some great play, but Quirke reads Green well and grabs the ball mid-air for a turn over.
47 mins; Penalty kick. ‘Quins’ defence is continuing to get manipulated over and over and over again by Sale who are able to find all of the gaps within it. Their penalty advantage is played and Wilkinson steps up for the kick.
49 mins; Penalty converted. Wilkinson chooses to once again kick between the posts, and narrowly slots it through the posts. Sale’s lead is officially restored. Sale 20 ‘Quins 19.
50 mins; A kicking game is starting to take form here with very little phase play. Both Quirke and Care are trying to play each other at their own games, but neither are having very much success. As a result, this is what is leading to a rather scrappy game which means that both sides are separated on small margins.
50 mins; Substitution. Simon Kerrod makes way for Will Collier.
53 mins; Penalty kick. An unfortunate refereeing call means that Wilkson steps up to take the kick. He chooses to go for the posts to widen the lead, but he goes wide.
54 mins; Substitution. Luke Northmore is off for Jones.
57 mins; Penalty advantage played. Jono Ross is off his feet and the advantage goes ‘Quins’ way. The frantic nature of Sale’s ball play is starting to make a reappearance.
59 mins; Line-out. The line-out is taken quickly and Sale are trying to build up that rhythm they had for some of the first half. ‘Quins go in too hard and the penalty kick is given. It’s subsequently kicked to the corner.
61 mins; Line-out. Another line-out means another wave of intense sharks attack. The ball doesn’t quite match up to the correct players and ‘Quins gain the penalty kick.
62 mins; Penalty kick converted. Marcus Smith is cool, calm and collected as he steps up to covert the penalty and reestablish ‘Quins’ lead. Sale 20 ‘Quins 22.
64 mins; Substitution. Kenningham is off for Tom Lawday.
65 mins; Sale are continuing to push forward towards the try line. Tyrone Green is awake and is able to stop the advance in it’s tracks as it goes to a Sale line-out.
67 mins; The Sharks are constantly on the attack tonight. The intentions behind the play is pure, but the frantic energy behind the players means that they are allowing stupid handling mistakes to occur.
69 mins; Penalty kick. Wilkinson steps up to take what you would think is a simple through the post conversion penalty, but he kicks the ball way off target. Ten minutes left to play and the nerves are already through the roof here, especially if you are a Sale fan.
71 mins; Penalty kick. Quirke’s box kick is well thought out but Jono Ross runs for it too soon and the penalty kick belongs to ‘Quins.
71 mins. Substitution. Danny Care is off for Scott Steele.
72 mins; Smith takes the kick quickly and ‘Quins choose to go through phase play to try and take advantage of a tiring Sale defence.
72 mins; Penalty kick. Collier doesn’t roll the ball away and it’s an easy Sale kick. Wilkinson takes it quickly and kicks it straight into touch. The game plans for both teams are exactly the same but neither can get it over the line.
73 mins; Substitution. Caden Murley makes way for Louis Lynagh. Harrison come off for Rodd and Wilkinson makes way for Curtis.
75 mins; Penalty kick converted. Curtis steps up and converts this penalty through the sticks properly, restoring Sale’s lead. Sale 23 ‘Quins 22
77 mins; Penalty kick. Another unfortunate decision goes against ‘Quins and Sale kicks it into touch again. The ball returns to a strong Sale maul and they are continuing to drive towards the line.
78 mins; Try reviewed. The referee reviews footage to see if he propels himself forwards or if he falls in place. If he propels himself forwards the try will be disallowed.
79 mins; TRY SALE!!! Rafi Quirke is deemed to not have committed a double movement to propel himself forwards and the try will stand.
80 mins; Conversion missed. Curtis steps up to try and slot it through the post whilst running down the clock, but it goes wide as the final whistle is blown.
FULL TIME. Sale 28 ‘Quins 22