Charlie Atkinson and Tom Cruse crossed for Wasps early in the second half after the visitors had trailed 10-3 at half time; Lima Sopoaga kicked six from six attempts at goal; Marland Yarde’s two tries helped keep Sale in it right to the end.
Last Updated: 27/12/20 7:58pm
Tries from Charlie Atkinson and Tom Cruse plus the kicking of Lima Sopoaga helped Wasps return to Gallagher Premiership action with a 26-23 victory away to Sale Sharks on Sunday.
Marland Yarde’s first Premiership try of the season helped Sale into a 10-3 lead at half-time after the only other scores of a slow-burning first 40 minutes had seen the teams exchange penalties
But fly-half Atkinson’s first Premiership try and Cruse’s score inside the first seven minutes after the break set Wasps on course for victory, with Sopoaga converting both and adding four penalties to put the seal on the win.
Up the boys!! #COYW pic.twitter.com/ZDXF3LzplV
— Wasps Rugby (@WaspsRugby) December 27, 2020
Yarde’s 50th Premiership try kept Sale in with a sniff right to the end, but ultimately they had to settle for a losing bonus point as Lee Blackett’s men took their European form into their return to domestic action – the only downside for the visitors being injuries to Alfie Barbeary and Zach Kibirige.
Wasps, fresh from an impressive pair of bonus-point wins in the Champions Cup, opened the scoring in the 12th minute as Sopoaga made no mistake with a scrum penalty from almost right in front of the posts.
A poor challenge at a line-out then gave Sale fly-half AJ MacGinty a swift opportunity to reply in kind, and he duly obliged from distance.
In a nip-and-tuck opening half, the Sharks grabbed the opening try nine minutes before the interval, with captain Faf de Klerk instrumental in the build-up and England winger Yarde darting menacingly down the left before diving over in the corner.
The previous 10 minutes’ play meant it was probably a deserved score, and MacGinty was impeccable in adding the extras from wide out.
Within 10 minutes of the restart, however, Wasps had turned the game right on its head with two smart tries and the first came when Atkinson sold a terrific dummy before darting under the posts, followed by Sopoaga adding the routine extras to bring the scores level.
The Sharks briefly retook the lead thanks to a MacGinty penalty but back came the visitors almost immediately and this time the ever-alert Cruse was put through to score off turnover ball by No. 8 Barbeary, who was forced off with a suspected right ankle injury soon after, leaving Sopoaga to make it 17-13 courtesy of another straightforward conversion.
Wasps were now well on top, and at the three-quarter stage of the game they extended their lead when Sopoaga added a penalty kick after Sale infringed at the ruck, along with kicking another after MacGinty had landed his third of the afternoon for the home side.
With 13 minutes left, Wasps winger Kibirige suffered a serious-looking injury as he appeared to get caught on the back of the head towards the end of a charge for the Sale line when up against the equally rapid Yarde.
Sopoaga slotted over his fourth penalty when play resumed, but Yarde earned his second converted try with three minutes left to keep the Sharks in the hunt. Ultimately though, it was not enough to change the result as Wasps earned a badly-needed victory to kickstart domestic their season.
That moved last season’s beaten Premiership finalists up to sixth in the early standings, while Sale are still looking for their first win under interim head coach Paul Deacon following the recent departure of the long-serving Steve Diamond.
Source : Sky Sports