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'It wasn't pre-planned': Why Tuilagi was taken off at half-time by Sale

By PA
Manu Tuilagi of Sale Sharks is substituted off at half time during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Wasps and Sale Sharks at The Coventry Building Society Arena on May 20, 2022 in Coventry, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Sale Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson says that Manu Tuilagi wasn’t taken off at half-time by design during last night’s win over Wasps.

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The Sharks picked up the valuable four points needed after winning 16-7 to leave Wasps now needing something from their trip to league leaders Leicester in their final fixture in the hope of qualifying for a coveted European spot.

Sale’s Robert Du Preez kicked three penalties and converted a try from Akker Van Der Merwe, while Wasps’ try came from Gabriel Oghre as Jimmy Gopperth added the extras.

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England centre Manu Tuilagi was replaced at half-time and Sanderson urged caution, saying: “We know Manu so well and know how to handle his condition.

“It wasn’t pre-planned to substitute him as he reported a tight knee so we need to be cautious as we want him to go on the England trip and then be available for the World Cup.”

Sanderson believes his side should be aiming much higher despite securing a European Champions Cup spot for next season with a Gallagher Premiership victory over Wasps on Friday night.

Sanderson said: “It’s great to secure a European spot but we should be aiming for the top four and contesting for trophies and championships.”

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Sale are at home to Bristol in their final game, and Sanderson added: “We are still in the hunt for a top-four spot, especially with Exeter losing tonight and I know from speaking to the Sarries (Saracens) that they will be up for the Northampton game tomorrow, especially after losing to Toulon last weekend.

“We should have put that game to bed far earlier than we did. We seem to be pressing for tries and then moments later we are back on our line.

“In those last 10 minutes, we showed great character in keeping our line intact and that’s particularly pleasing especially when a number of boys will be leaving the club at the end of the season – so I’d rather have the character than the points.”

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Wasps director of rugby Lee Blackett was disappointed that his side had come away with nothing as Gopperth missed two long-range kicks, which would have secured the hosts a valuable bonus point.

Blackett said: “It was a frustrating evening as, if you don’t win the gritty against Sale, you don’t come away with the points.

“It wasn’t the prettiest of games and certainly can’t have been very pleasant to watch.

“We felt we had a good first 20 minutes and went 7-0 up but there was a momentum shift as we dropped balls in the air.

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“We also conceded nine points from penalties at the scrum and made too many mistakes.

“There wasn’t a load of opportunities out there, we had a few but we weren’t clinical enough to take them.

“Now we need something from the Leicester game next week but that will be tough as both sides still have something to play for.”

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