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Aviva Premiership 2017-18: 53 random thoughts from Sale vs. Harlequins

You can learn a lot of random things in a rugby match. Here is what Sale vs. 'Quins taught us if you were paying attention.


Here we go with some Friday night Aviva Premiership action!

1) Why isn’t James O’Connor starting yet? I know the Sale backs have been good but O’Connor is a special talent.

2) This Sale kit makes them look like a bunch of building site workers in their leisurewear.

First Half

3) The first ‘Quins phase of the game showed the benefit of watching game film. See what a defence does badly and immediately exploit it.

4) High tackles when the attacking player is ducking his head are the most annoying penalties to give away in the game. Something needs to be fixed with them (2:30).

5) Faf De Klerk really has glorious hair. Joe Marler does not.

6) Speaking of glorious, how about that beard on Josh Strauss? That is some manly facial hair.

7) Neither Sale nor Harlequins will die wondering in this one. It is broken and scrappy, there are points on offer here tonight.

8) De Klerk vs. Danny Care is worth the price of admission on its own.

9) The Care kick for the first ‘Quins try of the night was world class. That outside of the boot, inch-perfect set up for Tim Visser was special (11:30).

Harlequins 7-0 Sale

10) Late 90s era style kicking battles will always be stopped when Denny Solomona catches the ball. He only knows one way to play (12:45).

11) Sale does a great job os spreading the field on defence. They won’t steal many balls in the tackle area, but they will always have numbers in the line to stop an overlap.

12) Good to see that we are still completely ignoring that whole feeding thing in the scrum (19:20).

13) Joe Marler doesn’t score enough tries for his size. This was only his sixth in 110 Premiership games. Close to the line he should be damn near unstoppable (20:45).

Harlequins 14 – 0 Sale

14) Marcus Smith has unreal vision for someone so young. His kick to the corner here was beyond his years in terms of game management (23:00).

15) You CANNOT kick when under pressure in your own 5-metre zone. The Joe Marchant charge down was outstanding, but as a kicker you have to know what is around you and adjust in those situations (24:00).

Harlequins 21 – 0 Sale

16) The amount of sponsorship on the back of Sale’s kit is annoying.

17) Hahahaha. Dave Ward. Thanks for showing us again exactly why hookers shouldn’t kick. That ball traveled further sideways and forward as it rocketed out on the full! (28:15),

18) Harlequins love an intercept. Sale is playing way too close to the gain line, but the ‘Quins are playing their attack lines well.

19) Adam Jones has looked exactly the same for the past 15 years. I can’t decide if this is a good thing or not.

20) Mike Haley take a bow. The Sharks fullback broke at least five tackles with his sidestep to get Sale back into the game (31:15).

Harlequins 21 – 7 Sale

21) Sad to see Jack Clifford leave the field with his shoulder in a sling (kinda) given the injury problems he had last year and his potential England call-up for the November internationals (35:39).

22) Nothing prettier in the game than the behind the back inside ball from a scrum-half to a forward runner (36:54).

23) Simple enough penalty for Marcus Smith to kick and extend the ‘Quins lead (38:00).

Harlequins 24 – 0 Sale

24) Smith is having himself a game tonight. A great kick followed up by some outstanding footwork at the line to almost send Marland Yarde over for a fourth ‘Quins try. Massive future.

25) Sale average conceding 24 points per game in the first half this season on the road. Good to see that they are keeping up that form here.

26) If you were to draw a picture of a veteran prop it would be Alex Tarus of Sale.

27) Boo Marcus Smith. Ruining the Sale conceding stat with a penalty at the end of the half to increase ‘Quins lead yet again.

 Harlequins 27 – 7 Sale

Second Half

28) Sale needs to work on their line speed defensively. The players all seem to be playing to different defensive strategies.

29) Just noticed that the ball almost exactly matches the Sale kit in terms of colour. This doesn’t seem to be helping them yet.

30) Interesting conversation about counting numbers in the line out. Referees in rugby are hilarious (44:12).

31) When your passes are being intercepted by second rowers you have a real problem with attacking depth. The Sale attack just hasn’t been working tonight (44:45).

32) Here comes O’Connor. Also seemingly the rest of the city of Sale at the same time as we have mass substitutions. (46:52).

33) Well. Those subs did not have the impact hoped for. This Care to Visser kick game is working well (47:15).

34) First miss of the night for Smith who has been immaculate from the tee.

Harlequins 32 – 7 Sale

35) Care vs. De Klerk has been good, but the England scrum-half has seriously outplayed the South African so far.

36) Ben Kay loves talking about mauls on commentary.

37) Sale have been their own worst enemies tonight. They are so eager to do positive things with the ball that they have turned it over time and time again.

38) The Sale lineout drive has been good though, and they deserved the try scored by Halani Aulika here (55:45).

Harlequins 32 – 12 Sale

39) Marcus Smith is just going to keep Sale at bay with his boot here as we enter the final quarter. Chalk up another penalty here (60:45).

Harlequins 35 – 12 Sale

40) Danny Care has had the sort of night where full-length diving behind the back reverse passes go to hand on the bounce (64:05).

41) Then that is immediately followed by Care tossing a 60-metre intercept try to Sam James. Another quick try would make this interesting (65:00).

Harlequins 35 – 19 Sale

42) This is the least straight lineout you will ever see not called (and that is saying something) (68:00).

43) T.J. Ioane may give away a penalty or two at the breakdown, but he has given Sale a massive impact off the bench. He poaches ball and he will hit anything that moves.

44) Andrei Ostrikov very nearly made this a game in the last 10 minutes before just losing control of the ball when falling over the try line. It was worth the mistake to hear the referee dress down Jono Ross immediately afterward (70:00). 

45) Sale is really pushing for the four-try bonus point. Some people don’t like the system, but there is no doubt it has made the latter parts of games like this much more interesting to watch.

46) And there it is. Ross Harrison crosses for Sale and suddenly it is a nine-point game with six minutes to go (74:20).

Harlequins 35 – 26 Sale

47) The Sharks fans must wonder where this power and passion was in the first half. If Sale could have started the game like this – and the subs have been a big part of that – then who knows what the score would be now.

48) All that Sale work and they are quickly undone again when Harlequins switch on the attacking power. Yet another chip over the top from Smith was perfectly weighted, and from the resulting phase Smith put Yarde over by attacking the line and giving his winger the simplest of tasks. Another Smith conversion and ‘Quins have a commanding lead once again (77:00).

Harlequins 42 – 26 Sale

49) Can’t argue with Danny Care as Man of the Match. Outside of one badly thrown intercept everything he tried came off tonight.

50) Hello. A random brawl. This game just doesn’t feel like one that would have exploded into a fight with less than two minutes remaining (78:43).

51) Pretty sure the ref just got bored with looking at the replay of the fight and decided to sin bin a player from each team just to get the game going again.

52) If Harlequins got out of this without serious injuries to add to their casualty ward then this will go down as a good win. If not, then there will be some issues moving forward.

53) And there is your final whistle (80:13).

Final Score: Harlequins 42 – 26 Sale



What random items from the game did you pick out? Comment away!

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Steve Wright

Rugby Union editor at RealSport.

Steve is a devotee to all things rugby union with writing being just one way of showing his love for the game. He also plays for the highly successful Wichita Barbarians during XVs season, before taking his talents South (in the style of LeBron James) to play sevens for the HEB Hurricanes out of Dallas, Texas.

When not writing or playing rugby, Steve is found playing or watching soccer, or watching any one of dozens of other sports as an admitted competition junkie. He also finds time to release his inner nerd as a lover of all things gaming (board and video.)

Track down more of Steve's work at websites such as HeroSports.com, RuntoftheWeb.com, and TheGamer.com.

Aviva Premiership 2017-18: 53 random thoughts from Sale vs. Harlequins

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