Sale Sharks 49-27 Glasgow Warriors: Gray’s debut curtailed by injury as Sharks attack
RICHIE Gray’s much-anticipated Sale debut against his old side in Mark Cueto’s Testimonial match at Heywood Road lasted less than half an hour.
The huge Scotland lock, already a fans’ favourite in Cheshire, was his usual rumbustious self, but after barely 20 minutes on the park, he took a hard thump on his right elbow and had to be replaced.
Gray hyper-extended his arm but expects to be fit for the start of the season.
But this was just about the only low point in a scintillating match, which was the usual pre-season mix of great rugby and schoolboy howlers. Played at a frenetic pace, the game produced ten tries, and if Sale’s Scottish coach Bryan Redpath will be happier than his old international team-mate Gregor Townsend with the outcome, the latter need not be too despondent.
The first half was an even affair: the visitors started the stronger and might have had points on the board before Ruaridh Jackson kicked them in front with a penalty. This was quickly overhauled, however, as another former Warrior, Richie Vernon, burst up the left for a Sale try, converted by Nick Macleod.
Both sides had chances for more tries, but there was no further scoring until the final two minutes of the half, when Glasgow loose-head prop Gordon Reid charged to the post, off-loaded in the tackle and Peter Murchie dived over, Jackson converting to put the visitors 10-7 in front.
However, in the final attack of the half, Sale stand-off Macleod burst through the centre and timed his pass to perfection to give Tom Brady a clear run to the line, before converting the winger’s try to give the home side a 14-10 interval lead.
Jackson’s 45th-minute penalty for Glasgow made it a one-point game. But almost straight from the re-start, Sale moved up a gear to take the game away from Glasgow. Forward pressure told as tight-head prop Tony Buckley charged over between the sticks, Macleod again converting, then a superb mazy run by right winger Charlie Amesbury was finished off by skipper David Seymour, with Rob Miller converting. It was all Sale at this stage, with Miller, the fullback who led the Premiership try-scoring charts last season, showing his class with a brilliant solo try and conversion to make it 35-13 for Sale.
However, Glasgow replied from the re-start with Tommy Seymour crashing over between the Sale sticks and Scott Wight, who had replaced Jackson, quickly slotted the dropped goal conversion.
Sale were now moving freely and slick handling to the right inside the Glasgow 22 allowed South African winger Corrie Uys to go over for a debut try.
Wholesale changes at the start of the final quarter led to a lack of direction in the game, but Glasgow weren’t giving in without a fight and Peter Horne gave the small band of travelling supporters something to cheer when he scored between the posts, Wight again converting before, with the final passage of play in this entertaining game, Miller’s off-load was carried on by Dwayne Peel for the final try, converted again by Miller.
Glasgow need not be too downbeat about the loss. They kept most of their big guns under wraps, were never totally out-played and the Townsend pattern of off-the-cuff rugby at a high tempo cannot be expected to work immediately.
They have new men to integrate into the side, which went well and apart from that period of Sale success in the third quarter, there was little between the sides.
Scorers: Sale: Tries: Vernon, Brady, Buckley, Seymour, Miller, Uys, Peel; Cons: Macleod (3), Miller (4). Glasgow: Murchie, Seymour, Horne; Cons: Jackson, Wight (2); Pens: Jackson (2).
Sale Sharks: R Miller, C Amesbury, W Addison, J Leota, T Brady, N Macleod, C Willis; E Lewis-Roberts, J Ward, T Buckley, F McKenzie, J Gaskell, M Easter, D Seymour, R Vernon. Replacements used: M Jones, V Cobilas, R Harrison, R Gray, T Holmes, J Doyle, D Peel, D Cipriani, J Davies, C Uys.
Glasgow Warriors: P Murchie, T Seymour, B McGuigan, A Dunbar, T Paris, R Jackson, H Pyrgos; G Reid, P McArthur, M Cusack, T Swinson, N Campbell, A Macdonald, C Fusaro, R Wilson. Replacements used: F Gillies, M Low, E Kalman, J Eddie, A Ashe, T Nathan, S Wight, P Horne, S Kennedy, F Thomson G Hunter.
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Monday 20 May 2013
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