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Wanderers sink Sale to seal semi spot

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Both sides picked up try bonuses but it was the kicking of Ryan Lamb on top of the Wanderers' four that ultimately decided a contest the hosts controlled for large periods.


It was one where they went ahead too through Lamb's penalty in the third minute, but Sale found a quick retort when Mark Jennings punted through a loose pass and dived onto the ball for the evening's first try.


The game was flowing fast and while Tom Collins' run to the line was halted for crossing, James Craig stole the subsequent lineout and the Wanderers maul went some 20 metres. Out the back, Lamb's sweeping pass found Cato and the full back snaked over.


If that score was impressive, the next just moments later was even better. Tom May led the charge from inside his own half and when Collins scooped up a cross kick, the young wing also showed the presence of mind to offload on his way to the floor, teeing up the score for Ethan Waller through the hands of Ben Nutley.


The hosts were certainly on top, but after a number of scrums and penalties came to nothing, the next set piece descended into handbags and the touch judge's version of events saw Ethan and Alex yellow carded for the Saints as well as Sale's Ross Harrison.


Though when Collins charged down a clearance it looked as though the 13 men would score next, a pair of loose passes not only conceded ground, but the ball as well and with the Wanderers stretched Richie Vernon cruised under the sticks.


Jordan Davies added the extras and then struck the post with the conversion of Nick Royle's try as the Jets exploited the extra space at their disposal. Still, the Wanderers would recapture the lead just as the Wallers returned, Tom Stephenson cutting a great line to set his side on the front foot in a move finished by a Lamb drop goal.


The 18-17 margin remained until the break but Sale were soon in front again, Will Cliff speeding clear with enough support to put Cameron Shepherd over beside the posts.


The momentum of the game continued to swing and having won a turnover for the Wanderers, Stephenson then jinxed through and produced the scoring pass for Darrell Dyer, Lamb's the simplest of conversions from straight in front.


Chances were few and far between in the third quarter, though crunching hits from Alex and Scott Armstrong kept the crowd interested, the latter as Sale attempted to play their way clear. Their efforts came to nothing, however, as did another spate of phases just moments from time and after a mauled churned up the metres in midfield and the game was finally killed off by Anders Mogensen with the final play.


Victory sets up a winner takes all tie to be top of the Northern Conference when the Wanderers travel to Gloucester in a fortnight's time - though a single point would likely be enough to keep the Wanderers top.


TIMELINE

3mins WAND Pen Lamb 3-0

4mins SALE Try Jennings 3-5

7mins WAND Miss pen Lamb

10mins WAND Try Cato 8-5

12mins WAND Try Ethan Con Lamb 15-5

28mins WAND Yellows Ethan & Alex

28mins SALE Yellow Harrison

29mins SALE Try Vernon Con Davies 15-12

31mins SALE Try Royle 15-17

35mins SALE Miss pen Davies

38mins WAND DG Lamb 18-17

HALF-TIME WAND 18 SALE 17

44mins SALE Try Shepherd Con Davies 18-24

49mins WAND Try Dyer Con Lamb 25-24

53mins SALE Miss pen Shepherd

80mins WAND Try Mogensen 30-24

FULL-TIME WAND 30 SALE 24