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Toulouse win comfortably as 14-man Sale fall away in second half

By PA
(Photo by Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

Sale will face a must-win Heineken Champions Cup clash at Ulster next weekend after a 27-5 home defeat to Toulouse in their Pool B third round clash. Sharks slipped to their second defeat in three matches in Europe’s elite competition, on a day when they were certainly hampered by Cobus Wiese’s red card in the first half.

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Toulouse’s third straight victory leaves them almost certain of a home last-16 tie. After Sale were rocked by a nasty clash of heads between Nick Schonert and Simon McIntyre after barely 15 seconds, they responded well by winning a couple of early scrum penalties.

Some surprisingly loose hands from the French five-time Champions Cup winners offered some encouragement to Alex Sanderson’s Sharks close to the Toulouse line, and it was from another scrum that the hosts broke the deadlock.

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Sale worked it perfectly, allowing Akker van der Merwe to dart through sharply from close range and touch down – Rob du Preez’s conversion attempt struck the post.

With Gus Warr, in particular, snapping into tackles, Sale were looking good as the quarter-stage of the game approached, but they then lost Wiese to a red card after much deliberation from referee Mike Adamson. The South African star was penalised for a dangerous clear-out at a ruck.

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Toulouse responded swiftly with Melvyn Jaminet popping over a penalty in front of the posts before Romain Ntamack fluffed a seemingly routine run to the line as he was tackled just yards short. Rucks on both sides were becoming a little messy, but by the end of a rather stop-start opening half, the Sharks still held a slight 5-3 advantage.

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With a man disadvantage, a huge second period beckoned for Sale, but it did not get off to the best start as the French giants soon took the lead. Jaminet was precise from some distance as his penalty kick made it 6-5 to the visitors at a packed AJ Bell Stadium.

It was a case of deja vu minutes later when Jaminet was again dead-eyed from distance, with another penalty stretching Toulouse’s lead to 9-5. It was 12-5 when Jaminet kicked from close range the next time, after tiring Sale were punished again.

As the game moved into the final quarter it was Toulouse who were now unsurprisingly dominant, but credit to Sale, they initially kept Le Stade at bay. Another long-ranger from Jaminet made it 15-5, then, when Emmanuel Meafou scrambled over in the corner to finally register the visitors’ first try in the 69th minute, it was game over for Sale.

Jaminet’s kick made it 22-5, before Guillaume Cramont’s try in the other corner saw many home fans head for the exits, with Toulouse eventually running out comfortable winners.

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