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Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Saturday, 10 May 2008 16:57 UK
Premiership final day
10 May, 2008, 1500 BST

Sale Sharks (0) 7
Tries: Bell Cons: Hodgson

London Irish (12) 17
Tries: Ojo, Mapusua (2), Mapusua Cons: Hickey

Jason White of Sale Sharks is tackled by Bob Casey of London Irish
London Irish's defence proved to be too good for Sale Sharks

Sale missed out on a Premiership play-off place after suffering a disappointing defeat to London Irish.

First-half tries by wing Topsy Ojo and centre Seilala Mapusua, who crossed again in the second-half, proved enough to secure the visitors' victory.

London Irish's Richard Thorpe and Paul Hodgson were both yellow-carded late on but Sale failed to take full advantage.

Mapusa added his second try before prop Chris Bell went over in injury time for a consolation try for the hosts.

Sale's failure to claim a bonus point means they just miss out on a place in the top-four play-offs, Leicester taking the final slot thanks to a last-gasp try against Harlequins.

The Sharks ended up in fifth, just one point adrift of Leicester, although they are guaranteed Heineken Cup rugby next season.

After a cagey start the game sprang into life midway through the first half with England prospect Ojo intercepting a poor pass inside his own 22 and sprinting the length of the field unchallenged to cross under the posts for the first try.

Just two minutes later centre Mapusua put Irish further ahead, breaking through weak Sale defence after a fine run by wing Sailosi Tagicakibau.

On the half-hour, Sale's Richard Wigglesworth advanced to within a metre of the Irish line, but that was as good as it got in the first half.

And, with half-time approaching, Luke McAlister failed with a long-range penalty to round off a thoroughly poor opening 40 minutes for the hosts.

After the break, Hodgson collected his own chip and chase but his off-load was knocked on as another chance came to nothing.

Sale dominated the half but a combination of poor handling and a lack of composure prevented them from making any in-roads into the London Irish lead.

With 15 minutes remaining Thorpe was sent to the bin for ruck infringement to give Sale a man advantage. Minutes later Irish were reduced to 13 men with scrum-half Hodgson the next to be sent to the bin.

But Sale failed to capitalise, their wastefulness highlighted by Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe mishandling in front of the Irish line.

With time running out Sale chased the game, taking risks and that allowed Mapusua to cross for Irish to further increase their lead.

Deep into added time Bell crossed for Sale and Charlie Hodgson's conversion gave them some hope, but it was not enough.

Sale director of rugby Philippe Saint-Andre:
"We didn't turn up.

"It was an opportunity to get to a play-off semi-final but we don't deserve it after that.

"In the first half we had seven or eight opportunities in their 22, but we lost the ball straight away.

"We knew they had match-winners but when you create seven or eight opportunities of your own and don't take them then you don't deserve to be in the semi-final."

London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith:
"To come here and win with 13 men on the pitch at one stage was so courageous.

"It's a shame that we're not going to be in the Heineken Cup but we're going to give the European Challenge Cup one hell of a bloody go."

Sale: Foden, Kuadey, Bell, McAlister, Vilk, Hodgson, Wigglesworth, Faure, Briggs, Turner, Jones, Cockbain, White (capt), Lobbe, Chabal. Replacements: Bruno, Sheridan, Roberts, Schofield, Hills, Cliff, Cueto.

London Irish: Hewat, Ojo, Mapusua, Geraghty, Tagicakibau, Hickey, Hodgson, Lea'aetoa, Paice, Rautenbach, Hudson, Casey (capt), Danaher, Armitage, P Murphy. Replacements: Dermody, Mackie, D Murphy, Johnson, Thorpe, Fury, De Vedia.

see also
Premiership play-off line-up
10 May 08 |  English
Premiership photos
10 May 08 |  Rugby Union
Harlequins 16-23 Sale
04 May 08 |  English
London Irish 43-20 Leeds
04 May 08 |  English

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