La Rochelle 45-21 Sale Sharks: Sharks knocked out in the quarter-finals.


La Rochelle advance to the Champions Cup semi-finals after they defeated Sale Sharks 45-21.

Two second half tries a piece from Raymond Rhule and Geoffrey Doumayrou downed Sharks as the French side progressed to the last-four for the first time.

Sharks started positively and despite missing his first kick, AJ MaGinty made no mistake from his second as he gave Sale a three point lead inside 10 minutes.

Ihaia West levelled within minutes with his first penalty of the quarter-final tie, and his second put La Rochelle into the lead midway through the half after Sale were penalised for an offside.

The French side’s first try was scored half an hour in after a well worked training ground routine caught Sale out.

A crossfield kick from West was claimed on the wing by Victor Vito who as being tackled, offloaded to the supporting Gregory Alldritt who crashed over just as he did against Sale last season.

Sharks hit back with another three points, but minutes before the break, they presented La Rochelle a second try when Faf de Klerk’s pass was intercepted on half way.

In an attempt to set up an attack, the scrum-half’s pass was picked up by Dillyn Leyds, and the winger was able to sprint clear to dive over for the second time in as many weeks.

With time in red, Sharks put together their best attacking play of the half and were rewarded with a lifeline try scored by Sam James.

Sale worked the ball along the line to Byron McGuigan who broke clear down the wing, before he played a pass inside to James to finish off a fine passage of play.

MacGinty’s initial kick was dragged wide, however, due to a shout on the charge down, a retake was ordered and the fly half kicked the extras to send the teams into the break with a score of 18-16.

The second half started in the worst possible way for Sharks as they conceded within the first minute.

La Rochelle broke the Sale defensive line on half way before an excellent dummy pass from Rhule allowed the winger to beat his man and score underneath the posts.

The French side were dominating set-pieces and another monstrous scrum led to a penalty, but on this occasion West was unable to extend the hosts’ lead.

La Rochelle’s dominance in the second half continued and their fourth try came courtesy off another impressive Rhule finish.

Sale were once again stretched by a crossfield kick, and with an awkward bounce going against Simon Hammersley, Rhule was able to kick and chase the ball into the try zone for his brace.

Sharks were struggling to compete with the physicality of the La Rochelle forwards, and to the quickness of their backs who put the tie to bed when Doumayrou added a fifth with 20 to play.

The ball was worked from right to left, and a break in the line from Rhule set up the outside centre to run clear and score, the added extras made the score 37-16.

Sharks were downed and another La Rochelle line break resulted in a sixth try for Ronan O’Gara’s side.

From a lineout, Leyds ran through a gap between two Sharks players and when inside the 22, found Doumayrou who had the simple job of crossing for his second of the game.

Sale were causing issues for La Rochelle when playing with the ball in hand, however the French side’s overall dominance was the reason for the heavy difference in points.

Sharks did manage to score a second try with five minutes to go, when a well worked move from left to right was finished by McGuigan, but it was nothing more than a consolation try.

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