The Wanderers ran in five tries in front of a thousand strong crowd at Franklin’s Gardens to secure their place in the Aviva ‘A’ League semi-finals with a convincing win over the Sale Jets.
The Wanderers got their first real chance of a score on the five-minute mark with Campese Ma’afu cleaning up a missed lineout throw but Sale managed to turn the ball over right on their own line and clear.
Brilliant counter-rucking from Ben Nutley earned the Wandies another shot, just after, as JJ Hanrahan sent the resulting penalty into the corner for an attacking lineout. Good pressure from the forwards eventually paid off and, with Sale’s Ciaran Parker leaving the field for a yellow card, Tom Kessell sped off the back of the resulting scrum to score just left of the uprights.
Hanrahan’s boot set up another attacking lineout moments later and a blistering run from Juan Pablo Estelles got the Wanderers within inches but Sale secured the ball and cleared to halfway. Storming runs from Luther Burrell and Rory Hutchinson earned Saints ground and a chip and chase nearly saw Burrell home but Sale managed to get a hand to the ball as it crossed the whitewash.
Pressure from Saints in defence left loose ball within Sale’s 22; Hutchinson scooped up and cleared several yards before offloading to Estelles for Saints second score in the corner.
Sale’s first and only chance got them within the Wanderers’ 22 and though a knock on cost them initially, Dan Mugford lined up with a penalty on the stroke of half time to see the Wanderers lead 12-3 at the break.
With the ball finding the referee’s hands instead of a Wanderers’ just after the break, Saints found themselves with a scrum and eventually a penalty just outside Sale’s 22. Hanrahan opted for the sticks and sent his kick through for a 12-point lead to the home side.
Estelles' second try of the night and the Wanderers third came 10 minutes into the second forty when the winger collected a Sale kick and ran through the defensive line for a simple run in and score.
The bonus point came on the hour mark with Kessell again slipping past the defence to score the home side’s fourth of the night. Hanrahan duly converted to give the Wanderers a 24-point lead.
A maul from the Wanderers got them back within Sale’s 22 and Estelles got close to scoring his third of the night but in the end it was whipped wide and Christian Day dotted down in the corner for the Wanderers’ fifth.
Sale got one final chance to score in the game’s closing minute, working their way into the home side’s 22 but a huge defensive effort lead by the captain Sam Dickinson and eventually finished by Wilson in the form of a turnover and the game ended in a convincing win to see the Wanderers through to the Aviva A League semi-finals.
SAINTS Wilson; Collins, Hutchinson, Burrell, Estelles, Hanrahan, Kessell; Ma’afu, Clare, Denman, Paterson, Craig, Nutley, Ludlam, Dickinson
Subs – Fish, Waller, Ilnicki, Day, Allman, Mitchell, Olver Grayson
SALE Jeffers, Coulson, Leota, Tuitupou, Edwards, Mugford, Dever; Pope, Langdon, Parker, Mills, Postlethwaite, Hughes, Seymor, Rogerson
Subs – Briggs, Williams, Ferreira, Pozniak, Moore, Wilson, Odogwu, Chatterton
14mins WANDERERS Try Kessell Con Hanrahan 7-0
29mins WANDERERS Try Estelles 12-0
40mins SALE Pen Mugford 12-3
HALF TIME Wandies 12 Sale 3
46mins WANDERERS Pen Hanrahan 15-3
50mins WANDERERS Try Estelles 20-3
60mins WANDERERS Try Kessell Con Hanrahan 27-3
72mins WANDERERS Try Day 32-3
FULL TIME Wanderers 32 Sale Jets 3