Rob Webber scored a try on his 100th Sale appearance as the Sharks moved to the top of the Gallagher Premiership with a comfortable 39-0 victory over London Irish at the AJ Bell Stadium.


The Sharks controlled most of the first half but were met by a solid Exiles wall, which often halted promising moves. However, two errors allowed the hosts to build a 12-0 lead as the James brothers, Sam and Luke, both touched down.

Rob Du Preez then extended that advantage in the second period before Webber went over for the landmark score. With the game won, Steve Diamond’s men went in search of the bonus point and that was eventually secured by Sam James’ second, before Denny Solomona and Byron McGuigan crossed to end what had, at times, been a frustrating game for the home team.

It was the first time in a while that Sale were presented with decent conditions. There was none of the wind and rain which disrupted their matches against Saracens, Leicester and Gloucester, but they initially struggled to break down a resilient Irish outfit.

Defences were very much on top in the opening 20 minutes, despite a couple of forays from the Du Preez twins, as the match remained deadlocked.

The visitors were stubborn, with Sean O’Brien particularly excellent on debut, but the Exiles would soon proceed to hand the initiative to Sale.

They had done the hard work, turning over a dangerous Sharks attack but, after shifting the ball wide, an errant pass was intercepted and finished by outside centre Sam James for a 7-0 advantage.


Even though the away side were stout without the ball they were not doing anything with it, but they eventually got an opportunity on the stroke of half-time.

Declan Kidney’s men were awarded a penalty and looked to attack through the middle, but an error allowed the Sharks to attack. Ben Curry, Will Cliff and Rob Du Preez combined before the fly-half sprinted through and passed to Luke James to score for a 12-point buffer at the break.

After failing to get much possession, the visitors looked to move the ball from deeper in the second half, but it did not work and Sale duly remained in the ascendancy.

Fly-half Du Preez rewarded their dominance by kicking a penalty to extend their lead going into the final quarter.


The hosts then went in search of the tries that would seal the bonus point and they managed to get one closer as a driving maul ended in Webber touching down from a maul.

London Irish were now desperate and they overplayed, which led to a mistake and James pounced to give the hosts the full five points. The Sharks relaxed and finished the encounter with two more scores as Solomona and McGuigan went over.

Press Association

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