Late Macleod penalty sinks Wasps
Sale Sharks got their LV= Cup campaign off to an ideal start as Nick Macleod's late penalty snatched a dramatic 32-29 triumph over Wasps at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Tries from Will Rowlands and Will Helu (two) gave Dai Young's team a 19-17 advantage at the interval, with Sale responding through touchdowns from Alberto de Marchi and Josh Beaumont, as well as Joe Ford's penalty.
The Sharks went ahead in the second period through Viliami Fihaki and Charlie Ingall scores before the visitors levelled matters courtesy of an Ed Jackson try and Alex Lozowski's three-pointer, b ut Macleod was on target in the 77th minute to give the hosts the victory.
When these two teams met earlier on in the season at the same venue, it resulted in a 25-14 home win.
Although two much-changed teams took to the field in this encounter, the Sharks were perhaps expected to repeat the victory, with director of rugby Steve Diamond naming a more experienced line-up.
Certainly, the opening passage of play hinted that the Manchester outfit were set to dominate with a 40-metre driving maul that ended in Ford kicking a penalty.
However, in the likes of Lozowski, Ben Jacobs and Helu, even Wasps' second string has the capabilities of hurting the opposition.
Visiting fly-half Lozowski proved a threat throughout the first 25 minutes and it was his half-break and offload that set up the position for the opening try of the match.
It eventually resulted in lock Rowlands touching down and Lozowski converting as Wasps went 7-3 ahead.
That score was the catalyst for a frenetic half of rugby which saw the lead switch hands throughout. Defence was at a premium and that was perfectly demonstrated when De Marchi strolled over following a Sam Tuitupou cut-out pass.
Helu then crossed the whitewash from a first-phase attack to regain Wasps' advantage before Beaumont powered over for Sale after a string of offloads.
But it was the visitors who went into the break in front as a spell of pressure close to the opposition line ended in Helu touching down for the second time.
Diamond's men hit back at the start of the second period. Phil Mackenzie made the initial incursion with a fine line off the shoulder of Will Cliff before the ball was shifted wide and Fihaki touched down.
That try ended the deluge of points for the next 20 minutes as conditions worsened and prevented either side from building a sustained attack.
However, the scoring resumed when Sam James broke through and passed to Ingall to go over and give the Sharks a 10-point buffer.
Wasps were not finished, though, and Jackson crossed the whitewash following further good work from Lozowski before the stand-off levelled matters with a three-pointer.
But the away side infringed four minutes from time and Macleod duly dispatched the resultant penalty attempt to secure the win.