McGuigan is a tri-scorer

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT - By LUKE BAKER

BY­RON McGuigan’s hat-trick got Sale Sharks’ Euro­pean cam­paign off to a per­fect start as they recorded an im­pres­sive 41-24 win over Per­pig­nan in hos­tile con­di­tions at Stade Aime Gi­ral.

A rau­cous home crowd made for an of­ten un­pleas­ant at­mos­phere in the south of France and Per­pig­nan hooker Manu Leiataua be­ing shown a straight red card on 20 min­utes only in­cited the fans fur­ther – with ref­eree Joy Neville re­quir­ing a se­cu­rity es­cort off the pitch at the fi­nal whis­tle.

Sale qui­etened the noise in the best way pos­si­ble, how­ever, run­ning in tries through Rob Web­ber, Ro­han Janse van Rens­burg and Luke James in ad­di­tion to McGuigan’s hat-trick to se­cure a bonus-point tri­umph.

Faf de Klerk – back from in­ter­na­tional duty with South Africa – was mas­ter­ful at scrum-half and the Sharks will wel­come Con­nacht to the AJ Bell Sta­dium next Satur­day full of con­fi­dence.

Af­ter De Klerk had missed an early penalty, to the de­light of the par­ti­san crowd, McGuigan stretched over in the cor­ner af­ter James had been stopped just short.

De Klerk nailed the ex­tras but Per­pig­nan cen­tre Pierre Lu­cas slipped through a gap in the vis­it­ing de­fence shortly af­ter and can­tered in un­der the posts to level pro­ceed­ings at 7-7.

But the Sharks’ task be­came eas­ier mid­way through the half as hooker Leiataua was sent off for lead­ing with an arm to the neck of op­po­site num­ber Web­ber in a tackle.

That send­ing off only in­censed the crowd and their boos soon in­ten­si­fied as Web­ber dot­ted down off the back of a driv­ing maul, although a pair of penal­ties by Jonathan Bous­quet gave Per­pig­nan the lead three min­utes be­fore the break.

How­ever, De Klerk went long from the restart, Per­pig­nan spilled the ball and Janse van Rens­burg was on hand to scoop up the ball and run in un­op­posed.

An­other Bous­quet three-pointer on the stroke of half-time nar­rowed the hosts’ deficit and the winger slot­ted his fourth penalty early in the sec­ond half to tie things up at 19-19.

But Sale fi­nally man­aged to pull away in the fi­nal quar­ter as a sump­tu­ous De Klerk chip over the top was col­lected and touched down by James, McGuigan slid over af­ter young fly-half Kieran Wilkin­son re­leased him out wide and the Scot com­pleted his hat-trick when he sup­ported James in a two-on-one sit­u­a­tion and glided over.

Gen­e­sis Mamea Le­malu en­sured Per­pig­nan had the fi­nal word as he dot­ted down at the death but it was Sale’s evening as they put in­dif­fer­ent Premier­ship rugby form be­hind them in style.

By­ron McGuigan

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