Updated: Monday, 18th November 2019 @ 12:02pm

Super Sharks Sale through to Premier Rugby Sevens final

Super Sharks Sale through to Premier Rugby Sevens final

By Liam Barnes

Sale Sharks are through to the JP Morgan Asset Management Premier Rugby Sevens Final after a thrilling exhibition of rugby at Edgeley Park, with the young side’s success building up hopes for the new season.

Hosting Group C of the 12-team tournament, Sale were pitted against Newcastle Falcons — who lost last year’s final to Saracens Sevens — as well as last year’s Aviva Premiership runners-up Leicester Tigers and newly-promoted Worcester Warriors.

Much like with Twenty20 cricket, Sevens is like watching normal rugby union on fast-forward, and the six matches made for a fast-paced spectacle on a warm Friday night in Stockport.

With six teenagers making up half of a very youthful squad, the Sharks started brightly against the Falcons and kicked off the evening with the opening try, but the early exuberance caught up with them and, against more experienced opponents, they lost the opener 15-7.

However, Pete Anglesea's charges regrouped for their second match, facing the Tigers knowing that a defeat was likely to end their chances of progression. Inspired by hat-trick hero Danny Bibby they rattled seven tries without reply past the two-time European champions, storming to a morale-boosting 47-0 triumph.

With the Tigers tamed and the Falcons soaring through as group winners, the final match with the Warriors was a winner-takes-all battle to join Bath, Wasps, Harlequins and Saracens in the final in The Stoop this Friday.

With a raucous crowd behind them, Sale swept into a 26-5 halftime lead, and though Worcester mounted a spirited comeback effort, the Sharks glided through to next week’s final 45-12 as a last-minute try bagged another treble for Man of the Tournament Bibby.

After the final match, the stars of Sale’s Sevens side were thrilled to progress to the final, and with a host of high-profile new signings such as Welshman Andy Powell to bolster a squad filled with up-and-coming talents, they were bullish about the club’s prospects next season.

“It’s amazing really, we were a bit slow at the start but we got into it, put the pressure on and did very well,” said Bibby. “Obviously we’re doing hard work in training, but it’s when you’re out on the field it counts, it’s good to play with the ball and after this success it’s looking good for next year.”

Tom Brady, the Flixton-born winger who stormed into the first XV before suffering a shoulder injury in November, was “absolutely buzzing” after going through, and having recovered from his injury now hopes to re-establish himself in the side.

“I’ve had two big operations and these are my first games since March, and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been,” he said. “It’s looking good for this season – the way we’re training, the preparation has been as good as it gets – I’m dying to get started again.”

Sevens captain Will Cliff, who ended the tournament with the most successful conversions, said: “I think we’ll do better than last year [the club finished 10th] definitely, we’re aiming for the top six.”

With the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand next month depriving the Sharks of key players such as captain Mark Cueto and new signings Hendre Fourie and Mark Easter, the Sevens side hope to step up to the plate in their absence.

“With the World Cup we’ll be missing a few big names, but we shouldn’t be too badly affected,” said Brady.

“We’ve got a good squad, so even with the guys gone we’ve got enough strength in-depth,” said Cliff. “There are a lot of good young players around, we’ve always had a good youth set-up, and players like Mark Jennings and Tommy Bell could really push on.”

Bibby agreed, adding: “We’ve got a few internationals, but as the young boys have shown tonight they can really play, and a few big names might be fighting for their places when they come back.”

Sale Sharks host Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors on August 19 and 26 at Edgeley Park, before kicking off the 2011/12 Aviva Premiership season away to Worcester Warriors on September 3.