What a distinction per week makes! Having blown aside the Scarlets with six tries final weekend to achieve the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals for the primary time in 15 years, Sale Sharks discovered themselves on the flawed finish of a six attempt hammering in La Rochelle.
Regardless of reaching the half-way mark solely two factors in arrears, the Sharks, who got here into the sport boasting the very best defensive report within the Premiership, leaked 4 extra tries as their desires of a primary semi-final within the high tier of European competitors had been shattered.
It left new head coach Alex Sanderson ruing a missed alternative, however vowing his staff will return higher for the teachings they realized in opposition to a power-pack La Rochelle aspect.
La Rochelle claimed a spot within the Champions Cup semi-finals for the primary time
‘I assumed we had been on the races after an especially aggressive first half wherein we gave them some comparatively smooth tries. However we weren’t within the second half,’ admitted Sanderson.
‘We had parity in a lot of the collisions across the subject, but it surely went flawed for us in opposition to their set-piece energy. I knew the gamers would maintain combating and I used to be happy with their effort.
‘It’s a studying curve for us and you must lose video games like these earlier than you possibly can come again and win them. That is solely the start for us and we are going to bounce again.’
Having labored their method again to inside two factors with an outstanding attempt from centre Sam James on the stroke of half-time it seemed as if the Sharks may effectively gone on and upset the chances. Then two tries within the opening 12 minutes of the second half from wing Raymond Rhule tilted the sport firmly in favour of the house aspect and paved the best way for them to achieve the ultimate 4 for the primary time.
The house aspect scored two tries within the first half to construct up a 9 level lead, however Sale hit again with an excellent rating of their very own on the stroke of half-time lower the hole to 2 factors and saved the sport within the melting pot.
La Rochelle’s Dillyn Leyds sprinted clear after taking the ball off the toes of Faf de Klerk
Rhule cut up the Sharks defence from a line-out after a neat inside go by Ihaia West 40 metres out after which latched onto a cross subject kick from man of the match Brice Dullin that cruelly uncovered Simon Hammersley to stretch the result in 14 factors.
French worldwide centre Geoffrey Doumayrou then bought in on the act with two extra tries as the 2 level interval lead grew to 29 factors as their bodily dominance allowed them to unleash their again division.
AJ MacGinty swapped two penalties with reverse quantity West earlier than La Rochelle notched the primary of their six tries. A towering up and beneath from West wasn’t handled by Hammersley and a cross subject kick by West discovered No 8 Victor Vito loitering within the vast open areas.
The previous All Black went into contact and by some means handed the ball across the again of his tackler to launch fellow again row man Greg Alldritt for an outstanding rating. MacGinty’s third penalty of the half pegged it again to a two level hole, however on the stroke of half-time a blindside raid on half-way by Faf de Klerk got here to grief.
As he tried to launch Marland Yarde, his go was knocked down, and backwards between his legs, by wing Dillyn Leyds. He picked up, pinned again his ears and raced to the fitting nook for a attempt that West improved off the touchline.
That seemed like being decisive, however the Sharks had different concepts. Slick dealing with down their again line, and an excellent assist line from centre Sam James earned them a attempt with the final transfer of the half.
MacGinty missed the conversion, however Irish referee Andrew Brace gave him a second shot after recognizing Will Skelton shouting at him as he ran as much as kick. This time he made no mistake and the hole was again to 2 factors on the break.
Then got here the Rhule and Doumayrou double acts earlier than Bryon McGuigan picked up a comfort rating for the guests on the dying.