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Page last updated at 20:50 GMT, Friday, 16 October 2009 21:50 UK

Sale 27-26 Blues

Sale (17) 27
Tries: Koyaimabole, Scholfield, Gaskell Cons: Hodgson 3 Pens: Hodgson
Drop: Hodgson
Blues (9) 26
Tries: Powell, Sowden-Taylor Cons: Blair 2 Pens: Blair 3, Halfpenny

Try-scorer Andy Powell's yellow card proved costly for the Blues
Try-scorer Andy Powell's yellow card proved costly for the Blues

Sale survived a shaky start and finish to beat the Blues and claim their first Heineken Cup win of the season.

Ben Blair and Leigh Halfpenny helped kick the visitors into a 9-3 lead but Sisa Koyaimabole claimed Sale's first try without conclusively going over.

Dean Schofield quickly added a second before the break and James Gaskell added a third after the restart.

Andy Powell and Robin Sowden-Taylor did claw late tries back for the Blues but it was not enough to snatch the win.

Sale will have been delighted to have returned to winning ways, but the loss of England and Lions prop Andrew Sheridan to a suspected dislocated shoulder will be a major concern for club and country.

After being outclassed by Toulouse in their opening Pool Five defeat, Sale looked in danger of a repeat show as the Blues started with purpose and attacked from the off.

It did not take long to make their early dominance count when full-back Blair kicked two penalties after the hosts were punished for infringements in the ruck.

Wales winger Halfpenny then missed the chance to extend the Blues' lead further sending a penalty from his own half wide, before Lee Thomas missed one for Sale.


When the home side tried to attack, they found it difficult to break down a solid Blues defence but did start to find openings and impose some physicality.

And their first points on the board came 15 minutes before the break thanks to Charlie Hodgson's simple kick in front of the posts for the Blues' failure to roll away.

Halfpenny restored the Blues' six-point lead kicking a penalty from 52m four minutes later, moments after missing a second long-range attempt.

But Sale finally broke through the visitors' defence going into the break with two quick tries.

The first was controversial though as back-rower Koyaimabole was adjudged to have crossed despite video replays proving inconclusive. Hodgson converted.

It was to get worse for the Blues before play was re-started when prop Powell was yellow-carded for a late tackle in the build-up to that try.

But there was no doubt about the second which came from a scrum from Tom James' careless knock-on.

Sale's Lee Thomas celebrates at the final whistle
Sale's Lee Thomas celebrates at the final whistle

James Gaskell made a fine break straight down the middle into the 22 and captain Schofield powered over for a converted try to make it 17-9.

The Blues were left stunned and could have conceded a third thanks to a brilliant 80m attack from Mark Cueto, Nick McLeod, Thomas, Mark Jones and Eifion Lewis-Roberts.

But the third try did come three minutes after the restart when Koyaimabole's inside feed from the scrum found Gaskell to burst through for another seven points.

Sale were in total control, but the Blues finally found some composure and and got the try they desperately needed on 50 minutes when Powell drove over from a line-out, with Blair converting.

Hodgson kept the Blues in the hunt sending a penalty against the post and the Blues got themselves into a losing bonus point position with 15 minutes to go through Blair's kick.

That was taken away almost immediately when Hodgson sent over a drop goal but they got it back right at the death.

Halfpenny was denied in the corner and from the resulting deep line-out flanker Sowden-Taylor went over with Blair closing the gap to one point.

Sale held on, but at a cost as they lost Sheridan to a shoulder injury after going down in a scrum.

Sale director of rugby Kingsley Jones: "It was a great win, we needed it. It could have been a better result I feel although I'm sure the Blues will disagree.

"We gave away nine soft points in the first half, but I'm very pleased with the 15 minutes either side of the half as we showed what we can do.

"We made them pay when they had the sin-bin."

Blues coach Dai Young:

"I'm absolutely bouncing. We showed a lot of character and commitment to come back but we shouldn't have been in that position.

"I really can't see how they can give that try, we've looked at it five or six times now.

"They gave that try and then Andy Powell is sin-binned - very dubious as well.

"For that 10 minute period, we gave away 14 points. We've got to come to these places and win."

Sale: MacLeod, M. Cueto, M. Cueto, Tuilagi, Thomas, Cohen, Hodgson, Peel, Sheridan, M. Jones, E. Roberts, Gaskell, Schofield, Fearns, Seymour, Koyamailbole.
Replacements: M. Tait for Tuilagi (61), Forster for Sheridan (72), Briggs for M. Jones (53), Abraham for Seymour (54), Cox for Koyamailbole (65).
Not Used: Kerr, Wigglesworth, Bell.

Cardiff Blues: Blair, Halfpenny, Shanklin, Roberts, T. James, Norton-Knight, Rees, Jenkins, G. Williams, Filise, Jones, Morgan, Warburton, Sowden-Taylor, A. Powell.
Replacements: Cooper for Rees (70), T. Thomas for G. Williams (57), White for A. Powell (73).
Not Used: Morris, G. Powell, R. Williams, Sweeney, Mustoe.

Att: 8,156

Ref: Christophe Berdos (France).

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see also
Sheridan faces Six Nations race
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Toulouse 36-17 Sale
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Cardiff Blues 20-6 Harlequins
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Heineken Cup 2009/10
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Heineken Cup tables
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European rugby archive
16 Aug 06 |  Rugby Union
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BBC Sport Wales coverage
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