Sharks crush Wasps
December 26, 2008
Sale Sharks' birthday boy Mark Cueto is swamped by his team mates after scoring a first-half try
© Getty Images
Sale hammered Wasps 31-3 in a one-sided Guinness Premiership clash at Edgeley Park.
Captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe scored two tries for the Sharks who climbed into second place in the table on the back of their impressive victory. The Sharks chalked up a total of four tries with England duo Mark Cueto and Charlie Hodgson also touching down as Wasps could only muster a solitary Dave Walder penalty.
The Sharks were in predatory form, twice pouncing on Wasps errors to erase memories of their last-gasp defeat to Bath last weekend and get their Guinness Premiership title hopes firmly back on track. Cueto was looking dangerous after eight minutes, fielding the ball on his own 22 before chipping the Wasps line and collecting only to miss the pass outside to David Doherty.
But it was not long before Sale made their pressure tell. Dean Schofield, on the loop, drew defenders before releasing to Neil Briggs who found Fernandez Lobbe to touchdown. They did not have to wait long for the second score as Cueto cleared to the 10-metre line and, with the ball bobbling towards touch, Wasps academy replacement Chris Bishay jumped over it - not realising Doherty was bearing down on him. Doherty collected and passed inside to Cueto who showed he still has the pace of old to run in under the sticks before Walder notched Wasps' only points of the afternoon.
Richard Wigglesworth's pass then bounced off Joe Worsley, allowing quick-thinking Charlie Hodgson to collect the ball and dart in under the posts. Hodgson's penalty extended Sale's lead 10 minutes into the second half as they continued to dominate, forcing Wasps to commit men at breakdown and engineering space for their superior backs to operate.
Sale rang the changes, bringing on Carl Fearns and Andrew Sheridan to shore up the pack, and Dwayne Peel replaced the impressive Richard Wigglesworth at scrum-half. Wasps tried to muster some resistance, running the ball from deep and recycling it quickly when possible but they lacked creativity and it was Sale who looked more likely to get the next score.
Cueto, on his 28th birthday, was putting in a superb performance, sending England boss Martin Johnson a timely reminder of his ability. Oriol Ripol, back from a broken arm sustained against Cardiff Blues, also provided a cutting edge for the Sharks in the second half.
Sale pressed for another try in the closing stages, kicking for the corner after Wasps had conceded a penalty 25 metres out. After holding up one drive the Wasps pack folded at the resulting scrum, conceding the penalty.
While the Wasps defence stood still, Fernandez Lobbe took the quick penalty and dived for the line to notch his second score of the day as the Sharks got back to winning ways in style.
Sale director of rugby Phillippe Saint-Andre hailed his improving side after they bounced back from their demoralising loss to Bath last time out.
"I'm pleased after the disappointment of the robbery of last week," he said. "We tried to be consistent, we tried a lot of things, we showed a lot of confidence, we took some risks. We tried to play rugby in front of a good crowd and scored four tries. I don't think a lot of teams in the Premiership can do this with the flair that we can.
"We're in good form and shape, we look fit and confident, and have a fantastic spirit in the camp. We've got good focus and I've seen my team get better every week for five weeks."
Wasps head coach Shaun Edwards offered no excuses in defeat, "It was quite evident we were outplayed in every department by the form team in the Premiership," he said. "The second try was a big turning point in the game, if you go 14 points behind there is no way back.
"We came up against the best team in England at the moment with all their experienced players out, but I didn't expect us to capitulate like we did. We expected to get a bonus point, but we didn't get anywhere near it. We've got a full week's training, plenty of time to rest and lick our wounds. We'll be ready for the next game."
Sale: Cueto; Bell, Tuilagi, McAlister, Doherty; Hodgson, Wigglesworth; Faure, M. Jones, Roberts, Chabal, Schofield, White, Briggs, Fernandez Lobbe.
Replacements: Ripol for McAlister (41), McLeod for Doherty (66), Peel for Wigglesworth (57), Sheridan for Faure (49), Fearns for M. Jones (54), Turner for Roberts (75), C. Jones for Schofield (71).
Wasps: Mitchell; Bishay, Lewsey, Flutey, Voyce; Walder, Simpson; French, Ward, Payne, Shaw, Birkett, Worsley, Betsen, Ellis, Lawler.
Replacements: Lawler for Mitchell (41), Staunton for Bishay (41), Webber for Lewsey (73), Reddan for Simpson (41), Skivington for Birkett (63), Leo for Ellis (41), Beech for Lawler (79).
Ref: Rob Debney (Leicestershire)