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REPORT: Sale Sharks 23-24 Bristol Rugby

Match Report

Sunday, January 1st 2017

Aviva Premiership Rugby

Sale Sharks 23 - 24 Bristol Rugby*

HT 15-10

Leota, Solomona Tries Varndell, Crumpton, Williams
Mitchell Conversions Woodward (3)
Mitchell (2) Penalties Woodward

(Model.KickOffShortRefAlias): 2:30PM

Att: 6168

Venue: AJ Bell Stadium

Ref: Ian Tempest


Sale Sharks

  • 1 Ross Alexander Harrison
  • 2 Robert William Webber
  • 3 Halani 'Aulika
  • 4 Jonathan Thomas Mills
  • 5 Andrei A. Ostrikov
  • 6 Cameron Charles Neild
  • 7 Magnus Burnett Lund
  • 8 Joshua Matthew Beaumont
  • 9 James Edward Mitchell
  • 10 Samuel George James
  • 11 Joshua Charnley
  • 12 Samuel Tuitupou
  • 13 John William Leota
  • 14 Denny Solomona
  • 15 Michael Patrick J. Haley


  • 16 Neil Robert Briggs
  • 17 James Michael Flynn
  • 18 Kieran A. Longbottom
  • 19 Ben Anthony Curry
  • 20 Tala James Ioane
  • 21 William Michael Phillips
  • 22 Alan Leon MacGinty
  • 23 Byron McGuigan

Bristol Rugby

  • 1 Ryan John Bevington
  • 2 Robert Andrew Hawkins
  • 3 Rodrigo Gaston Cortes
  • 4 Daniel Mark Tuohy
  • 5 Benjamin Edward Glynn
  • 6 Nicholas Sean Fenton-Wells
  • 7 Oliver James Robinson
  • 8 Mitchell William Eadie
  • 9 William Peter Samuel Cliff
  • 10 Billy George Searle
  • 11 Thomas William Varndell
  • 12 William Harry Hurrell
  • 13 Thretton Davis Palamo
  • 14 Jack Edward Wallace
  • 15 Jason Christopher Woodward


  • 16 Max Christopher Crumpton
  • 17 Kyle Traynor
  • 18 Jamal Michael Ford-Robinson
  • 19 Mark Richard Sorenson
  • 20 James Montague Phillips
  • 21 Rhodri Williams
  • 22 Adrian Thomas Jarvis
  • 23 Luke Arscott

Bristol Rugby produced a second half fightback to make it back-to-back Aviva Premiership wins with a hard-fought 24-23 victory over Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium on Sunday.

Trailing 23-10 midway through the second half - after Tom Varndell's record-equalling first half try - the visitors hit back with two further scores, from Rhodri Williams and Max Crumpton, with Jason Woodward's touchline conversion eventually proving the difference late on.

What happened?

On a bitterly cold afternoon in the North West, Bristol came close to breaking the deadlock on eight minutes when Jason Woodward broke down the right before chipping ahead, but Sale’s Mike Haley was on hand to tidy up and kick clear.

The visitors were dealt a blow four minutes later when, after four scrum penalties on the Bristol five-metre line, referee Ian Tempest lost patience and sent Ryan Bevington to the sin-bin. From the scrum that followed, Sale again took the upper hand and a penalty try was awarded, with James Mitchell adding the conversion.

NUDGE: Billy Searle kicks through at the AJ Bell Stadium (Photo: JMP UK). 

With a numerical advantage, Sale quickly capatalised with a second try courtesy of Denny Solomona, who latched on to Mike Haley's neat grubber kick to touch down in the corner.

Bevington returned from the sin-bin and almost immediately, Bristol had an opportunity to reduce the deficit with a penalty from all of 45 metres - but Woodward’s effort came up short and wide, while at the other end, Mitchell extended the Sale lead with a penalty of his own.

Woodward soon made amends to get Bristol on the scoreboard as the first half drew to a close - but there was still time for the Kiwi to go one better, ghosting through the Sale defence with the swiftest of steps before offloading to a rampant Tom Varndell, who dived over for a record-equalling 90th Premiership try – level, rather fittingly, with Sale legend Mark Cueto.

RAMPANT: Tom Varndell equals Mark Cueto's all time Premiership try-scoring record (Photo: JMP UK).

Sale struck first after the break when Johnny Leota went over at the back of a maul after Dan Tuohy had been sent to the sin-bin.

Bristol though, rung the changes and hit back courtesy of one such replacement, as Rhodri Williams – with one of his very first touches – cantered in untouched after great work down the left from Varndell. Woodward’s conversion made it 23-17 on the hour mark.

And there was more to come. As Bristol hammered away at the Sale line, Rob Webber was sin-binned for an infringement and from the resulting lineout, Max Crumpton powered over at the back of maul with Woodward’s conversion edging the visitors in front by a single point.

Woodward then squandered the chance for a four-point lead when his penalty faded past the left-hand upright with six minutes to play - and his next effort, from more than 40 metres, was also wide. But it mattered not as Ian Tempest blew the full-time whistle to seal a second successive Aviva Premiership win for Bristol and fourth straight win in all competitions. 

Key moment:

After Dan Tuohy had been sin-binned and Johnny Leota powered over to give Sale a 23-10 lead, an immediate reply was a necessity – and that was just what Bristol delivered courtesy of Rhodri Williams.

Photo of the match:

BATTLE WOUNDS: A blooded Ben Glynn takes on the Sale Sharks defence (Photo: JMP UK). 

Man of the match: Jason Woodward

The Kiwi full-back was at his devastating best at the AJ Bell Stadium, first sending Tom Varndell over before having a hand in Rhodri Williams' score. He then fired over a late conversion to seal victory for Bristol and cap a superb individual display.  

Social media post of the day:

The teams:

Bristol Rugby: Jason Woodward; Jack Wallace, Thretton Palamo, Will Hurrell, Tom Varndell; Billy Searle (Jarvis 49), Will Cliff (Williams 57); Ryan Bevington (Traynor 57), Rob Hawkins (Crumpton 60), Gaston Cortes (Ford-Robinson 57), Dan Tuohy (Phillips 66), Ben Glynn (Sorenson 66), Nick Fenton-Wells, Olly Robinson (c), Mitch Eadie.

Replacements: Max Crumpton, Kyle Traynor, Jamal Ford-Robinson, Mark Sorenson, James Phillips, Rhodri Williams, Adrian Jarvis, Luke Arscott.

Sale Sharks: Mike Haley; Denny Solomona, Johnny Leota, Sam Tuitupou (MacGinty 62), Josh Charnley; Sam James, James Mitchell (Phillips 72); Ross Harrison, Rob Webber, Halani Aulika (Longbottom 62), Jonathan Mills (Ioane 70), Andrei Ostrikov, Cameron Neild, Magnus Lund, Josh Beaumont (capt).

Replacements: Neil Briggs, James Flynn, Kieron Longbottom, Ben Curry, TJ Ioane, Mike Phillips, AJ MacGinty, Byron McGuigan.