Scarlets leave Sale empty-handed

Captain Jason Robinson delivered the killer blow to take Sale through to the semi-finals of the EDF Cup in a 21-5 win over the Scarlets at Edgeley Park on Saturday.

The former England full-back struck the decisive blow with a trademark individual try eight minutes from the end of Saturday’s final group match.

Sale thoroughly deserved to book their trip to the Millennium Stadium on March 24 but they made unnecessarily hard work of seeing off the depleted Welsh side, who were condemned to only their second defeat in 11 matches.

Llanelli, last year’s beaten finalists, trailed only 8-5 at half-time but were never seriously in contention after the decision of Phil Davies to rest six internationals.

In a match with little spark, it needed the sin-binning of prop forwards Iestyn Thomas (Llanelli) and Stuart Turner (Sale) to create the extra space for the only tries of the first half.

The visitors were down to 14 men when lively Sale scrum-half Sililo Martens jinked his way over from a scrum heel 10 metres out from the line on 13 minutes.

And Llanelli had the man advantage after half an hour when Thomas was driven over for an equalising try, which was the result of their first spell of concerted pressure on the Sale line.

Hooker Aled Gravelle had a try disallowed on 28 minutes when the video referee ruled he failed to ground the ball but Thomas made sure three minutes later when the Llanelli pack got up a good head of steam.

Ceiron Thomas was wide with the conversion, his only goal attempt of the first half, while his opposite number Daniel Larrechea had a torrid time with the boot.

The French understudy to the sidelined Charlie Hodgson missed three penalty kicks at goal and was also off target with a conversion and drop-goal attempt as he struggled to combat a swirling wind.

Martens and Larrechea ran the show in the first half and the Guinness Premiership club would have been out of sight at half-time but for the wayward marksmanship of their fly-half.

He eventually gave way to Welshman Lee Thomas, who succeeded with his first kick, a penalty attempt in the third minute of added time which nudged Sale 8-5 ahead by the break.

Thomas added a second penalty seven minutes into the second half, shortly after Ceiron Thomas had pulled his first penalty kick wide, and Sale missed a glorious chance to wrap up the win when lock Chris Jones dropped the ball with the line at his mercy.

Clever kicks from Jason Robinson and Mark Cueto had opened up the Llanelli defence and the ball bounced kindly for Jones, who was introduced at half-time only for the England international to fumble at the crucial time.

Thomas kicked his third penalty on 68 minutes to give his side a nine-point cushion and Sale finally wrapped up the win when Robinson beat three defenders in a dazzling angled run to the line.

Thomas maintained his 100 per cent record by landing the conversion, a notable achievement for a third-choice kicker.

The scorers:

For Sale:
Tries: Martens, Robinson
Con: Thomas
Pens: thomas 3

For the Scarlets:
Try: Thomas

Yellow cards: Thomas (12, Scarlets), Turner (28 Sale)

Sale Sharks: 15 Jason Robinson, 14 Mark Cueto, 13 Chris Mayor, 12 Lee Thomas, 11 Ben Foden, 10 Daniel Larrechea, 9 Sililo Martens, 8 Sebastien Chabal, 7 Magnus Lund, 6 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 5 Christian Day, 4 Dean Schofield, 3 Stuart Turner, 2 Andy Titterrell, 1 Eifion Roberts.
Replacements from: Sebastien Bruno, Barry Stewart, Martin Halsall, Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, Chris Jones, Nathan Bonner Evans, Richard Wigglesworth, Steve Hanley, Oriol Ripol, Rhys Jones and David Blair

The Scarlets: 15. Barry Davies, 14. Dafydd James, 13. Regan King, 12. Matthew Watkins, 11. Garan Evans, 10. Ceiron Thomas, 9. Clive Stuart-Smith, 8 Nathan Thomas, 7 James Bater (captain), 6 Dafydd Jones, 5 Scott MacLeod, 4 Ver

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