17 May 13
Harlequins has confirmed an exciting group of pre-season fixtures as it prepares for the start of the 2013-14 season.
In response Sale scored one try and relied on Danny Cipriani for the remainder of their points. They put up a strong fight to a tough Harlequins' team, but ultimately the stamina and strength of the London side proved too much as they defended doggedly late in the second half to secure the win.
In front of a strong crowd of 8,297, which included the whole Harlequins squad who had travelled to support the team, the players set their stall out early securing three points within the first five minutes from Botica's boot through a penalty for offside, which settled any nerves there may have been.
Two of Harlequins' four tries came in the first half - the first from Tom Williams who ran in down the right touchline to score. From a line-out, the team worked their way across the pitch and some excellent handling from Sam Smith got the ball out to Williams on the wing who made a five metre sprint to take the score to 8-0 within the first ten minutes.
The second try came from Man of the Match, Tom Guest in the 27th minute, who broke away from a scrum and twisted out of a defensive tackle to ground the ball over the tryline. Botica converted to give his side a 15-3 lead after Cipriani had added three points earlier for a penalty conceded for taking the player out without the ball.
The flyhalf then added a further three points for his side after Harlequins were penalised for being offside. It sailed in off the left post and took his team to 15-6 on the half hour mark.
Seven minutes before the break, Botica extended Harlequins' lead to 18-6 with another penalty kick and it remained that way until half-time.
Sale were the first team to get points on the board in the second half through another Cipriani penalty. Harlequins were penalised for not releasing in the tackle and the flyhalf, who only missed one kick all match, made it 18-9 two minutes after the restart.
In the 44th minute Sam Smith missed out on an interception chance, which Sale then kicked into touch. The ensuing lineout gave possession back to Harlequins and they worked the ball nicely along the line to Tom Casson. He threw a dummy pass to the right which created the space for him to run straight through the Sale defence and score. Botica added the extras to give his side breathing space at 25-9.
But Sale were determined and didn't give up, keeping the tempo of the game high and providing some excellent rugby for the crowd to enjoy.
With half an hour to play Harlequins could have scored again, but were held up over the line. They came close again from the ensuing five-metre scrum but were stopped inches short after a chip kick from Botica to Williams was collected by the Sale fullback, Nick Macleod who carried it over the line for another five metre scrum. Three minutes later they were held up again over the line after a strong drive off the back of the scrum.
Their pressure paid off though in the 54th minute as Wallace added an extra five points after grounding the ball over the line after another strong drive. As Botica added the conversion Harlequins were 32-9 with 26 minutes to go.
After the restart Sale upped the pressure on the young Harlequins team and despite an excellent tackle from Charlie Matthews on their key man, number 8 Andy Powell, the Manchester-side made their way upfield to get to the Harlequins try line. Jonny Leota managed to break through the Harlequins defence to score his side's only try of the Final. Cipriani missed the conversion and with 23 minutes left to play the score was 32-14.
Sale continued to push Harlequins hard right to the very end, putting pressure on at the scrum, but the youngsters held out, and worked well together to secure the victory and take home their second trophy of the season so far with the 32-14 win.
|Harlequins Score Card|
|Sale Sharks Score Card|