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Quirke-inspired Sale go top after bonus-point win at Leicester

By PA
(Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images)

Half-time replacement Raffi Quirke inspired Sale to a memorable 26-16 victory at Gallagher Premiership champions Leicester that maintained their perfect start to the league season. With Saracens not in action until Sunday, the Sharks are now top of the table after making it four wins from four games by coming back from 16-5 down at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

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It was a superb return from England scrum-half Quirke, who was playing in his first match for six months after a torn hamstring, but another shock to Leicester’s system as they suffered a second straight loss. Freddie Burns opened the scoring for Leicester with a penalty after six minutes after Sale’s defence, stretched by a good break by Harry Potter, were pinged for offside.

But it was the Sharks who had the game’s first try in the eleventh minute as Tom O’Flaherty almost got away before his fellow winger Tom Roebuck slipped through some flimsy tackling to score down the left. Rob du Preez missed the conversion, giving Burns the chance to kick the Tigers 6-5 ahead with his second penalty after Potter was obstructed when trying to claim a high ball.

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Following another successful kick at goal by Burns, as Sale’s discipline let them down again, Leicester went over for their first score of the afternoon after 29 minutes. Potter caused problems again down the left and it took a last-ditch tackle by Manu Tuilagi to stop him, but Jasper Wiese picked up before being helped over in the corner by a gaggle of teammates.

Sale were quickly back in the picture, however, as Gus Warr played the ball off the back of a scrum to du Preez, who weaved his way through to score before converting to reduce the hosts’ lead to 16-12. The game was then turned on its head eight minutes into the second half when Quirke broke through down the right before timing his pass to put Sharks captain Tom Curry in the clear.

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The Sharks had their bonus-point try in the 54th minute when Joe Carpenter made a break on the left wing before passing to Quirke, who had a comfortable run-in. It then took a superb tackle by Tigers full-back Freddie Steward to stop O’Flaherty from getting on the scoresheet as well and just about keep the hosts in the contest.

Having made one try and scored another, Quirke then prevented one at the other end by scampering back to stop Matt Scott in his tracks inches from the try line after the ball ran loose. Du Preez then missed the chance to extend Sale’s lead further by pushing a penalty wide, but by then time was running out for Leicester to mount a comeback.

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M
Mzilikazi 8 hours ago
Swashbuckling Hurricanes and Harlequins show scrum still matters

I always enjoy a good scrum based article. Thanks, Nick. The Hurricanes are looking more and more the team to beat down here in Australasia. They are a very well balanced team. And though there are far fewer scrums in the game these days, destructive power in that area is a serious weapon, especially an attacking scrum within in the red zone. Aumua looked very good as a young first year player, but then seemed to fade. He sure is back now right in the picture for the AB’s. And I would judge that Taukei’aho is in a bit of a slump currently. Watching him at Suncorp a few weeks ago, I thought he was not as dominant in the game as I would have expected. I am going to raise an issue in that scrum at around the 13 min mark. I see a high level of danger there for the TH lifted off the ground. He is trapped between the opposition LH and his own powerful SR. His neck is being put under potentially dangerous pressure. The LH has, in law , no right to use his superior scrummaging skill….getting his head right in on the breastbone of the TH…..to force him up and off the ground. Had the TH popped out of the scrum, head up and free, there is no danger, that is a clear penalty to the dominant scrum. The law is quite clear on this issue: Law 37 Dangerous play and restricted practices in a scrum. C:Intentionally lifting an opponent off their feet or forcing them upwards out of the scrum. Sanction: Penalty. Few ,if any, referees seem to be aware of this law, and/or the dangers of the situation. Matthew Carly, refereeing Clermont v Munster in 2021, penalised the Munster scrum, when LH Wycherly was lifted very high, and in my view very dangerously, by TH Slimani. Lifting was coached in the late ‘60’s/70’s. Both Lions props, Ray McLouglin, and “Mighty Mouse” McLauchlan, were expert and highly successful at this technique. I have seen a photo, which I can’t find online atm, of MM with a NZ TH(not an AB) on his head, MM standing upright as the scrum disintegrates.

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