Connacht crash out of Europe after defeat to Sale

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[team1]Sale Sharks[/team1][score1]20[/score1]



Connacht crashed out of the Challenge Cup, losing to Sale Sharks tonight at the AJ Bell Stadium against Aviva Premiership side Sale Sharks.

Connacht’s Kyle Godwin is tackled by Jono Ross of Sale. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

The hosts controlled the opening period and, although Jack Carty gave the Irish province the lead, tries from Byron McGuigan and Denny Solomona, as well as the accurate kicking of AJ MacGinty, helped the hosts take a 20-3 advantage into the interval.

That was enough for the Sharks to claim the win as the second period remained scoreless until Kyle Godwin touched down, but by then it was too late.

As a result, the Sharks progress and will face either La Rochelle or Bristol in the next round.

Despite fielding a talented backline, the visitors were weakened up front and they were regularly sent into reverse by Sale’s big carriers, often conceding ground to a dominant home side.

The start gave an indicator as to what was to come when Rob Webber, Jono Ross and James Phillips powered into the opposition rearguard. It looked as though it was about to be breached but Carty superbly read the play, intercepted Faf De Klerk’s pass and sprinted clear.

Godwin was on his shoulder and the Ireland international attempted to offload, but his pass was a poor one and the Australian duly knocked on.

Although the stand-off did give Andy Friend’s men the advantage minutes later, that profligacy was to prove costly as the English club put further pressure on their defence and this time they ceded.

In all honesty, it was far too easy as a simple move resulted in Solomona feeding McGuigan to score in the left-hand corner.

It was unselfish from the England wing but the arch-poacher would get his try soon after as MacGinty’s pass gave him a simple finish.

The Sharks’ fly-half excellently added conversions to both before kicking successive penalties as the Greater Manchester outfit held a 17-point buffer at the interval.

Connacht were better at the start of the second period, with their scrum far more solid, and they managed to create a couple of half-chances, but any momentum garnered was halted by unforced errors.

Godwin, who had gone into the fly-half position after an injury to Carty, rather summed up their evening when his attempted kick to touch went dead.

They were boosted by a yellow card for Phillips following a lazy tackle on Godwin and the Australian punished his indiscretion by going over, but that was all they muster in the final quarter as Sale went away with the win and progressed to the next round.

– Press Association

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