Sale 14 - 32 Harlequins: Quins thrash Sale in cup
HARLEQUINS secured the first of a possible trophy treble this season as they lifted the LV= Cup with a four-try victory over Sale at Sixways.
Sale: Try: Leota. Pens: Cipriani 3.
Harlequins: Tries: Williams, Guest, Casson, Wallace. Cons: Botica 3. Pens: Botica 2.
It is the first time Quins have won the domestic knock-out cup, in any of its various guises, since 1991.
Wing Tom Williams, No 8 Tom Guest, centre Tom Casson and flanker Luke Wallace all crashed over for Quins, while fly-half Ben Botica added 12 points with two penalties and three conversions.
The Sharks’ only touchdown came in the second-half when centre Johnny Leota finished off some good work to add to three Danny Cipriani penalties. But it proved nothing more than a consolation.
Quins will now look to win the Aviva Premiership title again while they are still in with a shot at the Heineken Cup.
Watched by their England contingent who were involved in the RBS Six Nations defeat to Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, Quins raced out of the blocks to go 8-0 up early on. Botica landed the first points when he kicked a 40-metre penalty on four minutes, and five minutes later pressure inside the Sharks’ 22 saw scrum-half Karl Dickson feed Williams to score in the corner.
The try sparked the Sharks into action and Cipriani grabbed their first points with a 25-metre penalty. But the Sharks’ biggest problem was of their own making – a spate of handling errors. Quins, on the other hand, took their chances clinically, and when they were awarded a five-metre scrum on the opposition line, Guest picked up sweetly to drive over the line.
Cipriani pulled back another three points from 20 metres with the help of the post, but that was cancelled out by Botica’s second penalty just before half-time to give Quins a 12-point advantage.
Cipriani booted his third penalty after the break but then two Quins tries in nine minutes put the Londoners in the driving seat at 32-9.
Casson’s try was a great move from a line-out, where a clean take by lock Charlie Matthews sent the ball via Dickson to Botica and, as a big gap opened in the midfield, the Quins centre gratefully received the present and stormed over from 25 metres.
Then flanker Luke Wallace found the smallest of gaps from a few metres out to sneak under the Sale cover and place the ball on the line.
Sale rang the changes in one final shot to get within sight of an elusive cup victory. Their endeavour brought a try at last when Leota finished off a neat move near the Quins posts.
The Sharks were fired up and, with Powell and flanker James Gaskell energising their pack, they took the territorial advantage in the final quarter but it was all too late as the fans from London celebrated their victory.
Referee: G Garner.
Sale: MacLeod; Brady, Leota, Tuitupou, Ingall; Cipriani, Fowles; Dickinson, Taylor, Buckley, McKenzie, Holmes, Gaskell, Seymour, Powell. Replacements: Cueto for Brady (50), Amesbury for Ingall (67), Peel for Fowles (50), Harrison for Dickinson (55), Croall for Taylor (75), Thomas for Buckley (50), Ostrikov for McKenzie (50), Braid for Seymour (50).
Harlequins: Chisholm; Williams, Lowe, Casson, Smith; Botica, Dickson; Lambert, Buchanan, Collier, Twomey, Matthews, Fa’asavalu, Wallace, Guest. Replacements: Walker for Williams (59), Clegg for Casson (64), Burns for Dickson (76), Marfo for Lambert (71), Ward for Buchanan (55), Johnston for Collier (50), Browne for Twomey (68), Trayfoot for Fa’asavalu (53). .
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