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Greig Laidlaw helps Gloucester to victory at Sale

Published 16/09/2016

Greig Laidlaw was in fine form for Gloucester
Greig Laidlaw was in fine form for Gloucester

Greig Laidlaw kicked 16 points as Gloucester secured their first victory of the Aviva Premiership season with a 26-13 triumph over Sale at the AJ Bell Stadium.

The visitors controlled the initial stages of the match and went 7-0 in front via John Afoa's converted try, but Sale hit back as Sam James crossed the whitewash.

Laidlaw and Will Addison then traded penalties before the Kingsholm-based side touched down for the second time through Charlie Sharples.

Cameron Neild reduced the arrears in the second half, but successive Laidlaw three-pointers gave the visitors an excellent win.

For a squad intent on breaking into the top-four, the West Country outfit's first two games ultimately ended in frustration.

Their comeback against Worcester, where they recovered from 20-9 down to draw 23-23, displayed impressive resolve but, having lost to Leicester on the opening day, that result still represented a disappointment.

The Cherry and Whites' inauspicious start to the campaign could have spilled over to this encounter with Sale but memories were evidently fresh from their last domestic victory.

That was achieved in Manchester when they inflicted the Sharks' only home domestic defeat of 2015-16 following a 12-11 triumph.

With that in mind, the visitors opened brightly and deservedly went into the lead.

Sharples' burst down the right-hand side put the hosts' rearguard under pressure before Billy Burns spotted a gap and off-loaded to prop Afoa, whose wing-like support line enabled him to cross the whitewash.

Laidlaw converted as Gloucester moved 7-0 ahead, but Sale soon began to find some continuity.

For the first time in the match, Steve Diamond's men managed to string together a number of phases and good hands down the blindside sent James over.

After that unconverted try, the home side proceeded to dominate, creating several chances inside the opposition 22, but Gloucester's defence remained resilient.

A penalty apiece for Addison and Laidlaw took the score to 10-8 in Gloucester's favour before David Humphreys' team were rewarded for their endeavour late in the half.

They inflicted a crucial blow just shy of the interval and once again it was Sharples who came to the fore. His off-load to Ben Morgan started the move and the wing then had the wherewithal to get back on his feet and be on the end of Tom Marshall's deft grubber.

Needing a response, the Sharks, who had won one of their two encounters going into this contest, controlled the early passages of the second period.

Gloucester held on commendably but eventually their tryline was breached when a driving maul resulted in Neild going over.

Humphreys' men were now struggling to get out of their own half but a needless Sale infringement gave Laidlaw an opportunity to extend their buffer, one which the skipper duly converted.

A further two three-pointers from the scrum-half sealed the victory.

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