Sale Sharks get back into gear against Exeter Chiefs


A Tom Roebuck hat-trick helped Sale Sharks reignite their play-off hopes with a massive bonus-point win over Exeter Chiefs. 

The hosts got revenge over their Southern opponents, who white washed the Sharks in the reverse fixture in October to help their play-off hopes with four matches to go in the Gallagher Premiership season.

Sale led 22-0 at half-time thanks to tries by Tom Roebuck, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Gus Warr before seeing out the victory in the second-half with a further two efforts from Roebuck and a quick-thinking try by Raffi Quirke.

The match started in a slow manner with a blood replacement and an Ernst Van Rhyn injury leading to long stoppages early on.

Sale got on the board first in the 10th minute when winger Roebuck flew in in the left corner after a brilliant carry and offload by returning captain Ben Curry in the build-up.

England International George Ford added the extras to extend the Northern side’s lead to seven points.

Exeter, who went into the game with a chance of rising to second place, struggled to get out of their own half in the opening 40 minutes, only getting into Sale’s 22 courtesy of a Henry Slade 50-22.  On that occasion a knock-on in the lineout led to Sale getting possession back again.

Chiefs’ back rower Richard Capstick took his frustration out on Gus Warr in the 21st minute leading to a penalty to Sale, which Ford duly slotted over to put the Sharks 10-0 up.

The hosts added another try in the 27th minute through former Exeter player Cowan-Dickie, who burrowed over from the back of a driving maul.  Ford added the conversion.

With five minutes left of the half things got worse for the travelling Chiefs as Josh Hodge, after a TMO review, was awarded a yellow card for deliberately knocking the ball on when Sale looked to have found space out on the right.

Sale made the most of this additional man, going over for their third try in the last minute of the half.

Scrum-half Warr was the beneficiary of some sumptuous rugby by the Sharks, as he finished of a brilliant move involving Roebuck, Joe Carpenter and Curry.  Ford missed the conversion meaning Sale led by 22 at half-time.

It didn’t take Sale long to get their bonus-point try, going over a minute after the interval  through Roebuck once again.

The winger beat Stu Townsend in the air from a Warr box kick before pirouetting and running half the pitch to score his second try of the day.

Despite the ball falling off the tee midway through his shot clock time, Ford added the extras to extend Sale’s lead to 29 points.

The Chiefs finally got on the board in the 49th minute when returning England star Immanuel Feyi-Waboso went over following a brilliant backs play, which exposed Joe Carpenter on the left wing.

Quirke came on in the 53rd minute and it only took him two minutes to get his name on the score sheet, burrowing over from close range, after taking a penalty quickly.

Roebuck thought he had scored his third try of the day in the 58th minute when he hunted down his own kick, but the wide man knocked the ball on when diving on the ball.

He didn’t have to wait long to complete his hat-trick though, going over a minute later when he received the ball out the back on the loop from Ford to run in unopposed.

Exeter had one of their strongest spells in the match just after Sale’s fifth try, but couldn’t make it count, missing a try making pass on the left.

Sale had chances to bag their seventh try late in the half when O’Flaherty was released down the left following another brilliant move off the lineout by the Sharks, but the wide man was forced into touch five metres out.

Exeter huffed and puffed late on but couldn’t reduce the arrears as they slumped to a bruising defeat in their race for the top four.

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