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Edgeley Park ZURICH Premiership Friday 26 March 2004 Sale 38 Gloucester 20
 
 

DESPITE ENJOYING more than their fair share of territory and possession than opponents Sale, Gloucester came away from Edgeley Park pointless, having suffered their first Zurich Premiership defeat in six matches.
    Sale ran in five excellent tries, fed by generous helpings of Gloucester turnovers as the visitors were found wanting.
    The die had been effectively cast by half-time when Sale had established a healthy 21 point lead thanks to Gloucester wasting crucial possession all too often. Each of the home sideís three early tries stemmed from Gloucester losing the ball and each time Sale broke out from deep in their own half to score.

PROVEN FINISHERS

    Saleís strong wingers Steve Hanley and Mark Cueto are a proven pair of finishers and this match proved to be no exception as they took their chances and their hard running pace and their strength did the rest.
    In marked contrast, Gloucesterís backs went through all the phases backwards and forwards across the field but struggled to gain advantage or provide penetration as an enterprising attacking force.
    Sale were the first to score when a Gloucester move broke down the ball was spilled, centre Jos Baxendall provided an outrageous pass through his legs as and Steve Hanley raced away 75 yards unopposed to touch down for his first try.
    Within ten minutes Sale had scored again, as Mark Cueto outpaced the Cherry and Whiteís defence on the right and left the hapless Van der Bergh looking flat footed, marooned in his wake, to get his try which Mike Hercus converted to put 14 points on the board.
    Henry Paul and Hercus exchanged penalties before the home side got their third try as Steve Hanley latched on to a searing angled run from Cueto to stroll over for another good try which was again converted by Hercus.

24-3 HALF-TIME

    The score 24-3 at the interval might have flattered the Sharks but they had taken all their chances while the Cherry and Whites huffed and puffed and achieved very little.
    Henry Paul struck a fifty yard penalty to raise Gloucesterís hopes at the start of the second half but Sale hit back with another well worked try as prop Stuart Turnerís reverse pass found American fly half Hercus on hand to cross under the posts and convert his own try.
    Referee Chris White sin-binned both Cueto and Turner in rapid succession but although Gloucester continued to throw the ball about they were unable to make the extra numbers count. Despite having being reduced to 13 men, the desperate Sale defence somehow survived.

BONUS POINT HOPES DASHED

    Gloucester did not give up and rallied in the final quarter with tries from the forwards, replacement South African hooker du Preez and lock Alex Brown, both converted by Henry Paul, to take the score to 31-20 but any thoughts of Gloucester salvaging a bonus point were dashed.
    Turner received a second yellow card and left the field but Sale had the last word with a third try for Hanley in the lengthy injury time.
    Sale earned their win by taking all their chances, whereas Gloucester got what they deserved on the night-nothing.
    Disappointing Gloucester struggled to break down a determined defence and on this Fridayís form, any ambitions of reaching another Twickenham final are now sadly becoming a distant dream.

 

     Points         Tries: Brown, Du Preez
                        Cons: Paul 2     Pens: Paul 2

 
 


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