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Sale edge close battle at the Stoop to hurt Harlequins' hopes in Anglo-Welsh Cup

Harlequins' hopes of winning the Anglo-Welsh Cup suffered a huge blow as they went down 13-10 to Sale at the Stoop

Harlequins are still Pool 3 winners but this loss is likely to deprive them of a crucial home semi-final.

Sale's victory puts them temporarily top of Pool 2 but qualification to the next round appears improbable as both Exeter and Ospreys would have to lose their remaining fixtures.

Neil Briggs scored a try for Sale with Will Addison converting and kicking two penalties. Quins picked up a penalty try with Ruaridh Jackson kicking a penalty and a conversion.

Sale made the better start to take a third-minute lead when Addison kicked a long-range penalty, which gave the visitors the impetus to control the opening quarter.

Quins made elementary errors in the difficult conditions to surrender possession and territory to their opponents.

Mike Haley made a couple of threatening bursts for Sale but they regularly conceded soft penalties, which allowed the hosts to relieve the pressure

As a result neither side threatened the try-line in a scrappy opening quarter, leaving Sale's 3-0 lead intact.

Jackson brought the sides level with a 21st minute penalty as the visitors infringed at almost every scrum but Quins missed the chance to take the lead when Jackson made a dreadful hash of a penalty attempt.

The home side suffered two further setbacks in quick succession. First full-back Aaron Morris left the field for an injury assessment to be replaced by Tim Swiel and then Adam Jones was yellow carded for taking Jonathan Mills out in a line-out.

Sale took immediate advantage as from the resulting penalty and line-out, they produced an excellent drive for Briggs to crash over with Addison's conversion giving them a deserved 10-3 lead at the break.

With the wind against them in the second half, Quins' prospects looked bleak and were not helped by the failure of Morris to return.

Sale also suffered an injury blow when number eight Laurence Pearce departed clutching his arm before Jones returned from the sin-bin.

After 48 minutes, Jack Clifford was introduced by Quins in an attempt to raise their game and they received an immediate boost when Sale prop Brian Mujati was sin-binned to put the visitors' scrum under terrific pressure.

They conceded three penalties at successive five-metre scrums before the referee awarded a penalty try which Jackson converted to bring the scores level at 10-10 at the end of the third quarter.

Sale brought on Peter Stringer in place of Mike Phillips with Joe Marchant coming on for Quins in place of Winston Stanley as both sides strove for the crucial win.

Sale had the more penetrative runners in Haley and Addison but a huge penalty count stopped them from taking advantage until Addison's late penalty secured victory.


From Belfast Telegraph