Sale 15-25 Exeter: 14-man Sharks let it slip in second half for third time in as many games this season
Image: David Rogers/Getty Images)
England star Henry Slade filled his boots as sloppy Sale allowed Exeter to finally get off the mark.
Slade scored 18 points in a Premiership match for the first time since 2015 to hand Chiefs their first win of the campaign.
But only after Alex Sanderson’s Sharks failed to turn up in a second half for the third game running.
Having opened up an early 10-point lead, Sale allowed Slade to pick their pockets with tries either side of Rohan Janse van Rensburg being rightly sent off for a dangerous hit.
Sanderson said: “No complaints with the red, but it was a couple of brain farts that lost us the game.
“We had a very clear plan at half time, or I thought it was clear, where we were going to play the game and how we were going to get there.
“We went away from that. Either we can’t execute it or to some degree lads think they know better. That’s a worry. We need to be on the same page.”
David Rogers/Getty Images)
Sale gave up 17-point leads against Bath and London Irish in their first two games, scoring just three points in two second halves of rugby.
This time they at least kept fighting, Cameron Neild having a try chalked off before Ewan Ashman tip-toed along the touchline to add to Ross Harrison’s first half try.
But Van Rensburg’s reckless red was a self-inflicted wound which proved fatal.
Within five minutes of his right shoulder making contact with the jaw of Exeter fly-half Harvey Skinner, Chiefs had turned the contest on its head.
First Slade glided into the space left by the South African’s departure, then 6’5 forward Will Witty produced a moment of sheer magic after charging down a Rob Du Preez kick around halfway.
The giant lock brilliantly prodded the loose ball towards the try line, first with his right foot then his left, and outpaced the defence for a score that won him the man of the match award.
While Sale missed the game management of absent playmaker AJ MacGinty, Exeter revelled in that very quality brought by Slade.
“Henry was maybe a man with a point to prove,” Lawrence Dallaglio said of a player snubbed by the Lions. “He showed that little bit of class throughout the entire game.”
It proved too much for Sale and left Sanderson in familiar post-match mood.
“I’ve been frustrated after every game,” he said. “The win against Bath felt lucky, the draw at Irish felt like we lost and today we probably got what we deserved.
“It hurts. It keeps me up at night.”
SALE – Tries: Harrison, Ashman. Con: R du Preez. Pen: R du Preez.
EXETER – Tries: Slade 2, Witty. Cons: Slade 2. Pens: Slade 2.