Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Harlequins beat Sale to top table

Harlequins secured top spot in the Aviva Premiership table with a 24-10 triumph over Sale in the Sharks' last ever game at Edgeley Park.

England internationals Danny Care and Mike Brown went over in the first half as Quins established a 15-3 advantage at the interval, with Nick Evans adding a conversion and a penalty.

Tommy Bell responded for Sale with a penalty before two second half Evans' three-pointers extended the visitors' advantage. Will Addison crossed for the Sharks to give them hope, but a further kick from the tee sealed the win for Harlequins and a home semi-final in the play-offs.

Sale decided to go with a weakened outfit - but it was the hosts who started brighter. In their own half, the Sharks attacked the blindside through Luther Burrell whose exquisite off-load put Mark Cueto in space. His grubber through was collected by Addison who touched down, but the try was disallowed for a push on Quins' full-back Brown.

Although the home side played with verve early on, their inexperienced set-piece struggled and their failure to take chances cost them dear. In the 22nd minute, powerful surges from the visitors' forwards got them to inches of the line. Care showed his athleticism to jump over the ruck and touch down, while Evans slotted the conversion for a 7-0 lead.

Sale finally got on the board through the boot of youngster Bell, before Evans restored the visitors' seven-point advantage.

Quins continued to have the better of the play in the latter stages of the opening period and scored their second try when a wonderful flat pass sent Brown through a gap. The England international then evaded Rob Miller's weak tackle to cross to whitewash.

The Twickenham Stoop-based outfit started the second half as they finished the first, continually challenging the Sharks' gainline. Successive Evans penalties took the advantage out to 21-3 before Nick Easter was sin-binned for Harlequins.

But that seemed to spur the hosts on as Addison made a late case for 'try of the season' with an outstanding individual score. Taking the ball in midfield, the centre weaved past two defenders to go over from 50 metres.

Bell added the extras and Sale began to dominate possession, however, excellent Quins' defence and minor errors stopped them from scoring any further tries. And Evans secured the victory with a three-pointer eight minutes from time.


From Belfast Telegraph