Sale Sharks registered their first win in Europe this season with a 25-15 victory over 14-man La Rochelle at the AJ Bell Stadium in the Heineken Champions Cup.
Tries from Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Chris Ashton as well as a penalty try sealed the Sharks’ first victory in the competition since 21 January 2017 – 1038 days ago!
They played more than half of the game a man to the good however after La Rochelle hooker Pierre Bourgarit was shown red after he eye gouged England’s World Cup finalist Tom Curry three minutes before half-time.
It only took seven minutes for Sale to open their account as van Rensburg went over from close range following quick hands from Faf de Klerk at the ruck.
Halfway through the half, La Rochelle drew the scores level once again. Winger Vincent Rattez broke the line and went under the posts before Brock James converted.
Seven minutes later, the hosts thought that they had regained the lead through Ashton. The ball was picked up well inside the La Rochelle 22. Denny Solomona found de Klerk, who then found Ashton just outside the visitors’ 22. The former England international unleashed his signature ‘Ash splash’ but his effort was rightly disallowed because of a forward pass.
Sale did regain the lead through the boot of AJ MacGinty, giving sale a 10-7 lead at the break.
James drew the scores level once again more or less immediately after the restart but Sale found themselves deep in the La Rochelle half soon after.
La Rochelle’s patience was wearing thin and so was the referee’s as Andrew Brace awarded a penalty try to the hosts after the French outfit collapsed the maul five metres out from their own line.
Seven minutes from the full-time whistle, Ashton went over as he capitalised on a La Rochelle mistake to round off the victory.
There was a consolation try for the visitors in the final seconds through Jeremy Sizelle but it wasn’t enough to clinch the losing bonus point.
Sale return to Gallagher Premiership action next weekend. They will take on Worcester at Sixways on Saturday.
Image credit: Sale Sharks