Jen­nings shows his class as Ir­ish show frail­ties

The Rugby Paper - - Aviva Premiership - ■ By COLIN NEWBOULT

YOU KNOW it is go­ing to be your evening when a player, who has gone 155 games with­out scor­ing, fi­nally gets across the white­wash.

Ross Har­ri­son has been a sta­ple of the Sale front row for the last few years and his 13th minute ef­fort, from a dom­i­nant driv­ing maul, set the tone for what proved to be a chas­ten­ing night for Lon­don Ir­ish.

Ex­iles’ fans will jus­ti­fi­ably ask what has hap­pened since their re­mark­able open­ing day vic­tory over Har­lequins, fol­low­ing a per­for­mance which, quite sim­ply, was not Premier­ship stan­dard.

Sharks’ sup­port­ers may well pose a sim­i­lar ques­tion – the dif­fer­ence be­ing that they will be far more pos­i­tive – af­ter see­ing their side pro­duce an as­sured dis­play, seven days on from their sham­bolic set-piece against New­cas­tle.

The is­sues which en­gulfed their li­ne­out last week­end were gone while the op­por­tu­ni­ties were snaf­fled by a back­line who thrived be­hind an abra­sive for­ward pack.

Among a fine squad per­for­mance, there were some ex­cel­lent in­di­vid­ual dis­plays. Faf de Klerk was elec­tric, Jono Ross and Ben Curry were in­dus­tri­ous in both the loose and tight, but it was cen­tre Mark Jen­nings who shone the bright­est, show­ing the type of bal­last which would have im­pressed Ed­die Jones.

The Eng­land head hon­cho has al­ready stated his pref­er­ence for in­creas­ing the size of his back­line and, while he does not get above the mag­i­cal 100kg (15st 10lb) bar­rier, the 24year-old’s dy­namism and power in con­tact was too much for Nick Kennedy’s men.

It will be a con­cern for the Ex­iles’ boss that, for all the bril­liance of their round one vic­tory, they have since failed phys­i­cally to match Ex­eter and Sale.

AJ MacGinty had the first say, tak­ing Di­a­mond’s men in front from the tee.

That soon be­came a ten­point buf­fer when Har­ri­son had his mo­ment in the sun be­fore Denny Solomona ben­e­fited from de Klerk’s ex­cel­lent work to cross the line.

Ir­ish had barely fired a shot but, when they fi­nally did, it only ended in an­other Sale touch­down as a poor pass was pounced upon by Solomona and the Eng­land win scam­pered over un­op­posed.

Josh Charn­ley’s se­cond half try, fol­low­ing a yel­low card for Blair Cowan, con­firmed the bonus-point, but the visi­tors re­sponded when Wayne Barnes awarded a penalty try af­ter Halani Au­lika col­lapsed a rolling maul.

Sale and Jen­nings had the fi­nal word, how­ever, via the cen­tre’s well-taken ef­fort, af­ter Cowan had been sent-off for a se­cond yel­low card, leav­ing Kennedy with plenty to pon­der go­ing into next week­end’s game against a re­vi­talised Northamp­ton.

“We know the re­al­ity of the Premier­ship,” Ir­ish’s di­rec­tor of rugby said. “You make any mis­takes and you get pun­ished.

“We’re just go­ing to have to learn quickly. We’re go­ing to keep get­ting bet­ter as we adapt to the league and we adapt to the stan­dard of it.”

PIC­TURES: Getty Images

Dy­namic: Sale cen­tre Mark Jen­nings makes a break

In­stinc­tive: Denny Solomona breaks through the Ir­ish de­fence to score

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