Sale finish on a high with win in high-scoring thriller with Gloucester
AJ MacGinty had a try, penalty and four conversions for the Sharks.
Sale edged out Gloucester 46-41 in a high-scoring game at the AJ Bell Stadium to finish in seventh place in the Gallagher Premiership.
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With an open feel befitting this final-day clash, Sale scored first-half tries through Tom Curry, Rob Webber, Sam James and Chris Ashton, but Gloucester led at the break with Tom Seabrook, Ben Vellacott, Matt Banahan and Lewis Ludlow sealing their bonus point.
In a lung-busting second half Byron McGuigan touched down for the hosts, while Dom Coetzer and Vellacott struck back, but there was still time for AJ MacGinty and Denny Solomona to win it late on.
Sale scored in the first minute of the game, Faf De Klerk’s dart allowing MacGinty and Ben Curry to combine to set his brother Tom up to score.
The visitors responded well and quick ball off the back of a maul eventually found Seabrook, who burst through the Sale defence to score under the posts.
Sale then won a penalty on the Gloucester 10-metre line after good defensive work and the resulting maul saw Webber charge over.
De Klerk and McGuigan broke again down the left-hand side and despite Callum Braley’s best efforts James was set free to score Sale’s third try of the game.
Minutes later Gareth Evans countered a Sale attack, and his offload found scrum-half Vellacott who ran the length of the field to score moments after coming off the bench.
Banahan breezed through the Sale defence with ease to score under the posts to level the scores at 19-19 after just 29 minutes.
Sale scored their bonus-point try from a Jono Ross break – he combined with De Klerk whose lofted pass set up Ashton.
Remarkably the visitors also added a bonus point on the stroke of half-time, another driving maul seeing Ludlow go over in the corner.
Sale started the second half as quickly as the first, wing McGuigan going over in the corner for the hosts’ fifth score of the afternoon.
Just as in the first half, the visitors responded immediately when Banahan’s chip through eventually found substitute Coetzer to score in the corner to level the score once more at 31-31.
The visitors then went in front yet again when Jake Polledri broke the Sale line and set Vellacott away for his second try of the game. Evans’ reliable boot converted once more to increase the lead to seven.
Evans slotted home a penalty to put the visitors more than a converted try ahead, but immediately the hosts responded with two tries of their own in quick succession, De Klerk instrumental in setting up first MacGinty and then Solomona.
MacGinty closed the game out with a penalty from inside the Gloucester 22 to end an enthralling game.