First-half Sale blitz is a mountain too high for Gloucester
Sale extended their impressive start to the Gallagher Premiership season with a comfortable 27-17 win over Gloucester at the AJ Bell Stadium. Joe Carpenter, Tommy Taylor and Ben Curry all crossed for the hosts in a first-half blitz that left the visitors with a mountain to climb in Manchester.
Santiago Socino, Jake Morris and Freddie Clarke did hit back for the Kingsholm club but Alex Sanderson’s high-flying side, bolstered by twelve points from the boot of Rob du Preez, held on for their sixth win of the season.
The result helped Sale keep up the heat on unbeaten Saracens at the summit of the table, while Gloucester were unable to respond to Northampton’s Friday night triumph over Exeter and now lie outside the top four.
Sale got off to a flying start and took the lead after just five minutes as a cross-field kick from fly-half du Preez found full-back Carpenter, who dotted down in the corner. The hosts continued their momentum with a series of dominant forward carries as they pinned Gloucester back in their half throughout the first ten minutes and hooker Taylor soon grabbed a second when Sale powered over from a rolling maul.
Gloucester hit back, however, producing a near-carbon copy of Taylor’s try as Argentine Socino went over in the 14th minute. Du Preez added a penalty to his two previous conversions to extend the Sale advantage before Curry then scored the hosts’ third try after 25 minutes.
Sam James found himself in space down the left before slotting his captain in but the visitors responded once again, scoring their second when winger Morris hared down after his own grubber kick to touch down.
Persistent defence from the home side forced a Gloucester turnover just before the break and du Preez closed out a faultless first-half performance with a looping kick to pin the hosts back in their half. Curry was then forced off with an ankle injury after 55 minutes before a series of Gloucester penalties allowed them to pin the Sharks back on their five-meter line.
But the hosts’ defence stood firm as another unforced handling error from Gloucester gifted Sale the ball back. Gloucester did score their third shortly after, however, with lock Clarke capitalising on a scramble to dive on a loose ball and give the away side a glimmer of hope.
Lloyd Evans slotted the conversion – after missing his first two – to reduce the arrears to just ten points but Gloucester were unable to tee up a grandstand finale as Sale’s fast start did the damage.
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