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Red card sees Sale Sharks bow out of Champions Cup in La Rochelle defeat

Will Cliff takes the ball into contact for Sale against La Rochelle. (Photo by XAVIER LEOTY/AFP via Getty Images)

Sale’s hopes of progressing to the European Champions Cup quarter-finals came to an end as they were beaten 30-23 by La Rochelle.


Tries from Tevita Railevu, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Geoffrey Doumayrou and Gregory Alldritt, along with 10 points from the boot of Ihaia West, secured a bonus point victory for the hosts.

Jean-Luc du Preez and Curtis Langdon scored Sale’s tries at the Stade Marcel-Deflandre, with AJ MacGinty and James Williams kicking 13 points between them.

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Du Preez opened the scoring for Sale after seven minutes as he powered over the line from short range after a period of sustained pressure by the visitors, with MacGinty adding the extras.

The visitors kept building the pressure and La Rochelle were temporarily reduced to 14 men when blindside flanker Kevin Gourdon was sent to the sin bin for an intentional knock-on.

MacGinty kicked a further three points to extend Sale’s lead to 10 points but La Rochelle hit back with two tries in the space of three minutes.

Former All Blacks scrum-half Kerr-Barlow put in a speculative up and under which was gathered by Levani Botia, who was brought down five metres short of the try line. The ball was recycled and put through the hands with a well-timed pass from Doumayrou putting Railevu over at the corner.


Sale were immediately back on the attack but a sloppy pass from Will Cliff was intercepted by Kerr-Barlow, who ran in unopposed from 40 metres out with West converting to put the hosts into the lead.

MacGinty and West exchanged three points before a long-range penalty from Williams meant Sale turned around with a 16-15 lead.

La Rochelle started the second half strongly and after a number of powerful carries Kerr-Barlow raced clear before drawing his man to put Doumayrou over. West converted to give the hosts a 22-16 lead going into the final quarter.


Sale were struggling to cope with the pace and quality of Kerr-Barlow, with former England wing Chris Ashton’s frustration getting the better of him when he tackled the scrum-half without the ball after he had broken clear. Ashton’s indiscretion left referee Mike Adamson no choice but to award him a yellow card, which was punished by three points from the boot of West.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when replacement prop Valery Morozov was shown a red card due to driving his shoulder with force into the head of Lopeti Timani – but Timani was shown a yellow card after a neck roll on Morozov.

Alldritt claimed the try bonus point as he crossed at the far left-hand corner after a lovely pass from Brock James.

However, Sale refused to throw in the towel and a Langdon try from short-range cut the home side’s advantage to seven points.

The English team tried desperately to cross for a late try but La Rochelle’s defence held firm.

– Press Association

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Shaylen 1 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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Jon 7 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

This is a bit dramatic for me, I think the Rebels and Force cultures would be very strong, and if a player is chosen from either, you can be confident they are in a good head space and ready. Whether they quite have the technical or tactical foundations of the other two states is where one would way their risk of selection. I see no need for Schmidt to worry about that risk in this squad. The main reason I could see a predominance of players from Brumbies and Reds, is simple cohesion. What might the coaching group make of what’s lacking in the Tahs, and to a lesser extent Rebels and Force’s, franchise? Certainly sides (players) that are running irish plays like we saw from that lovely McDermott long ball with have a head start. I hope the players can continue it at International level. Really liked what I saw of Wright (don’t know player focus and just hadn’t seen a lot of him anyway) in that game, can see him being a glue in a Wallaby side too. A with the similar worry of selecting players like Ryan, I think it unfounded to worry so much about forward balance at the moment. Including both Wright and Skelton in the same lineout is not going to lose you games gainst Wales. Nor will any unknown weakenss Wales might find in Ryan be exploited to any great extent. It is the perfect time to introduce such a young player. What other shortcuts might Schmidt want to make now, just a year out from hosting BIL? When Gamble came on the scene I thought he had a Pocock ability to break game apart along with performing the role of a openside well. I would be very keen to drop Leota/Hooper for Gamble, and in your squad make up, include Uru as a lock. Did you forget to remove Vunivalu from your team? Would you have Meafou in your squad if you could?

114 Go to comments
FEATURE Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink