RUGBY UNION: A BATTLING performance by Wasps saw them put up a late fight but ultimately fall short after losing 17-13 away at Sale Sharks in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
Despite holding a narrow 8-7 lead at half-time at the AJ Bell Stadium, the visitors found the soggy playing conditions difficult in the second period as Sale moved nine points clear.
Jacob Umaga scored a debut try to give Wasps a glimmer of hope in the final minutes but Sale stood firm by not allowing their opponents out of their own half and Dai Young’s second string side were made to settle of a losing bonus point.
Heavy rain ahead of Friday’s kick off had made conditions difficult for both sides but it was Sale who controlled the early possession as they tested a stern Wasps defence.
With 12 minutes gone Wasps made a break for the line and were awarded a penalty which Conor Eastgate scored for the opening points of the match.
Five minutes later Mark Jennings scored the first try of the match, which was converted by Tom Arscott, to put Sale in front as the slippery conditions worsened.
But five minutes before half-time Wasps were back in front thanks to a superb try from fly half Sam James who picked up a Mike Phillips pass before accelerating almost 60 metres to cross and although Eastgate’s conversion attempt struck the post, the visitors held a narrow 8-7 lead at the break.
Sale hit back early in the second half when Sam James threaded a precise grubber kick through the defence, and Sam Bedlow won the race to the touchdown. Tom Arscott converted to give his side a 14-8 lead.
The home side were now playing with increased confidence and after being awarded a penalty near the posts Arscott landed the kick to extend their lead to nine points.
Arscott missed a 35-metre penalty before Wasps got themselves back into the match against the run of play ten minutes from time thanks to a well-worked try.
George Edgson’s direct running created a gap for Jacob Umaga who raced in from 25 metres but he was unable to conversion and that was as close as Wasps got as Sale closed out the win.