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Sale Sharks earned a 27-3 bonus point European Rugby Challenge Cup victory over Pau at Stade du Hameau.
The result keeps Sale Sharks alive in their pool and their chances of reaching the quarter finals.
While Sale Sharks opened the scoring and led the match throughout they left the bonus point try until the death.
Sale had a 3-22 lead at half time but it wasn’t until the 79th minute that they scored again as Johnny Leota crossed in the left wing for the bonus point try.
The Aviva Premiership side ran in three tries in a dominant first-half performance and looked all set to romp to the full five points in the second half at Stade du Hameau to keep up the pressure on Pool 5 leaders Newport Gwent Dragons.
But the home side, chasing their first win of the campaign, stuck to their guns after the break and made life increasingly difficult for Sale. So much so, in fact, it looked as though the visitors were going to leave without the bonus-point they craved.
But cometh the hour, cometh the man and Samoan international centre Leota came up with the goods with a try wide out on the left to ensure the five points were made secure to set up a big game at the AJ Bell Stadium against the Dragons next weekend.
The Sharks, who beat Pau in the Challenge Cup final in Oxford in 2005, got off to a flying start when their Russian lock Andrei Ostrikov scored with only a minute showing on the clock. Danny Cipriani added the conversion and then paved the way for wing Nev Edwards to cross when the outside half took a quick tap penalty 26 minutes into the game.
This time Cipriani was wide with his conversion attempt, but he hit the mark twice before the break as Sale pile on the pressure and the points. He added the extras to a third try from Will Addison and then landed a penalty to make it 22-3 at the break.
The only points for the home side in the first 40 minutes came from a penalty from Samuel Marques, but they managed to frustrate Sale until the final minute.
Final Score Pau 3 (3) Sale Sharks 27 (22)
Pen – Marques
Tries – Ostrikov, Edwards, Addison, Leota
Pen – Cipriani
Con – Cipriani (2)
Referee: Gary Conway (Ireland),
Assistant ref: Leo Colgan (Ireland),
Assistant ref: Paul Haycock (Ireland),
Citing Comissioner: Eddie Walsh (Ireland)
Pau: Charly Malie; Marika Vunibaka, Julien Fumat (c), Pierre Dupouy, Mathieu Acebes; Brandon Fajardo, Samuel Marques; Geoffrey Moise, Thomas Bianchin, Giorgi Natsarashvili, Cameron Pierce, Claude Dry, Giovanni Habel Kuffner, Josefa Ulago Domolailai, Brice Monzeglio
Replacements: Mehdi Boundjema, Julien Jacquot, Juan Pablo Orlandi, Sean Dougall, Loic Bernad, Thierry Lacrampe, Watisoni Votu, Romain Buros
Sale Sharks: Michael Haley; Tom Arscott, Will Addison, Johnny Leota, Neville Edwards; Danny Cipriani, Chris Cusiter; Ross Harrison, Tommy Taylor, Vadim Cobilas, Bryn Evans, Andrei Ostrikov, Cameron Neild, Magnus Lund, Josh Beaumont (c)
Replacements: Neil Briggs, James Flynn, Ciaran Parker, Jon Mills, Mark Easter, james mitchell, Joe Ford, Mark Jennings
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