Sale Sharks slaughter spaniards La Vila

By Robert James Pollock

Sale Sharks 59 v 6 La Vila – Amlin Challenge Cup Pool 5

A hat-trick of tries by Sale’s Johnny Leota helped Steve Diamond’s men get back to winning ways as they completed a nine try rout over Spanish visitors La Vila.

The comprehensive victory marks the first in six games for the Edgeley Park outfit and kick-starts their European campaign after defeat to Brive in the opener.

The Sharks, skippered by British and Irish Lion Andy Powell, were slightly frustrated in the opening period but their superiority prevailed in the end.

The clash marked starting home debuts for Irishmen Tony Buckley and Cillian Willis who both put in worthy displays with the latter crossing for a score.

La Vila held off the charges of Sale until the 17th minute when Italian referee Alan Falzone awarded a penalty try from which Rob Miller easily converted.

Scores by Powell and Andrew Higgins, with Miller converting the latter, left the score as Sale 19 La Vila 0 on the half hour mark.

The Spanish champions pulled six points back before the interval through the boot of New Zealander Nick McCashin.

Sale took little time in securing the bonus point when Samoan international Leota touched down between the sticks following some superb interplay with Luther Burrell. Miller added the extras.

Burrell was next on the score sheet, the winger sold a clever dummy to La Vila’s James Knight and ran over unopposed to bring the score to Sale 33 -6 La Vila after Miller’s conversion.

Former Leinster scrum-half Willis was the next beneficiary of La Vila’s ill-discipline as the sharp nine opportunistically tapped a quick penalty and dived over the line for a debut try, Miller duly converted.

The penultimate try found its origins in a hack downfield by Powell from which Burrell eventually gathered to cleverly combine with Leota once more who dummied his way to a second score of the evening.

The clinical boot of Miller put the scores to 54-9  and a final Leota try, who  demonstrated fantastic footwork to gather his chip ahead, completed the victory for Diamond’s men.

Forwards coach Steve Scott was impressed with a couple of the newcomers suggesting it will be a welcome headache ahead of selection for Exeter next Friday.

“Age mean nothing if the players are good enough. You need a big squad and it is good that we can give young players an opportunity in the Amlin and LV Cups. If they perform consistently well, then rightly so they should come in for selection,” said the former Scottish hooker.

Attendance: 4,190

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