Sale Sharks edge to Anglo-Welsh Cup win over Wasps
Josh Charnley made his rugby union debut as his new club Sale Sharks made a winning start to their Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign following a 17-13 victory over Wasps.
The 25-year-old, signed from Super League champions Wigan Warriors, started on the bench as the Coventry outfit went into the break 8-7 in front via Guy Thompson's try and Connor Eastgate's penalty.
Sale's response in the first half came through Mark Jennings' score before Sam Bedlow's touchdown eight minutes into the second period gave them a 14-8 advantage.
Tom Arscott then added a penalty to his two conversions before the moment most were waiting for arrived and Charnley made his entrance.
With the conditions difficult for running rugby he was given little opportunity, but he did feature on the winning side, despite Jacob Umaga's effort reducing the arrears.
In unrelenting rain, both sides struggled to keep hold of the ball for any significant length of time, but the errors that it caused did provide the opportunity for the teams to counter-attack.
One of those scenarios, where hosts' lock Lou Reed lost the ball in contact, duly led to Thompson breaking through the middle early on.
Although the visitors kicked away possession, Laurence Pearce's knock-on gave Dai Young's men the chance to enter the opposition 22.
An excellent drive got them to within inches of the line but, despite that eventually being repelled, a Sale infringement allowed Eastgate to take Wasps ahead.
Steve Diamond's charges responded and it was the power game which also proved profitable for them. Like Wasps, the Manchester outfit found the attacking maul to their liking and they charged towards the whitewash.
The away side briefly halted the momentum but Jennings surged off the back, bouncing off tackles in the process, to touch down.
Arscott converted as the Sharks moved 7-3 in front but they failed to take that buffer into the interval as the visitors hit back with a try.
The Anglo-Welsh competition is a tournament for the youngsters to ply their trade at a higher level and find some much needed experience, but it was one of Sale's senior pros that made the error for this score.
Mike Phillips, a 94-times capped Wales' international, threw a pass off a lineout which was intercepted by Thompson and the Wasps' captain for the evening showed impressive pace to sprint 60 metres and touch down.
Eastgate's missed conversion meant just one point separated the sides going into the second period, but that changed in the third quarter.
The Sharks put the visiting rearguard under duress and, after Arscott had produced a neat grubber, Bedlow went over.
Once again, their full-back added the extras before he was on target with a three-point attempt.
Charnley then entered the field of play but the wing could do little about Wasps' next score as Umaga scampered across the whitewash. That set up a tense finale but Sale held on.