European Challenge Cup - Sale claim big win over La Vila
Sale Sharks bounced back from the disappointment of defeat in their opening Amlin Challenge Cup game with a resounding 59-6 victory over Spanish champions CR La Vila at Edgeley Park.
The Aviva Premiership side recorded nine tries with Samoan centre Jonny Leota scoring a hat-trick of them in a victory that put their European campaign back on track after the loss in Brive last weekend.
Sale director of sport Steve Diamond pulled off a surprise when he named Andy Powell as captain for this game but the Wales number eight scored his side's second try and proved instrumental in the victory.
The home team secured a vital bonus point when Leota scored the first of his treble after half-time, with Sale's other tries coming from Andrew Higgins, Luther Burrell, Cillian Willis, Richie Vernon and a penalty try in front of a home crowd of 4,190.
The part-timers from Spain were constantly under pressure during a one-sided contest and they were repeatedly penalised, although they did manage two first-half penalties from Nick McCashin to go into the break 19-6 behind.
Italian referee Alan Falzone tired of the Spanish side's infringements though and the visitors played for 20 minutes with 14 men when yellow cards were shown to McCashin and his half-back partner Hernan Quirelli in the first and second half respectively.
Sale, tournament winners in 2002 and 2005, now face French side Agen in back-to-back Pool games which will determine whether they qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament.
In Friday night's other game, Stade Francais eased to a 49-3 home win over Bucharest Wolves.
The Parisian side, 23-14 winners against Worcester in their opening fixture eight days ago, move top of Group 1 with a match against Parma to come on December 10.
It took just four minutes for Michael Cheika's side to register their first try against the Romanians as Antoine Burban went over.
Ten minutes later Francis Fainifo doubled their lead and from that point on there was no looking back as the French side's pack dominated to assure the bonus.
On Thursday, Newport Gwent Dragons made it two wins from two after seeing off French side Perpignan 23-13 in the battle between two previously undefeated sides at Rodney Parade.
Lewis Evans and Adam Jones scored early tries to send the Welsh side on their way while fly-half Jason Tovey kicked the remainder of the points with two conversions, a penalty and a pair of second-half drop-goals.
In reply, Perpigan's scored a last-minute consolation try through Adrien Plante while their Wales international James Hook booted the remaining eight points on what was a disappointing return to his homeland following his recent move to France.
Rob Baxter insists that Italian minnows Cavalieri Prato are potentially "a dangerous proposition" for his Exeter team in Saturday's Amlin Challenge Cup clash.
Exeter return to Sandy Park after a battling display in defeat against Perpignan last week gained them an important bonus point. A five-point maximum against Prato would set up next month's home-and-away appointments with unbeaten Pool Four leaders Newport Gwent Dragons, but Chiefs head coach Baxter is taking nothing for granted against the Italians.
"I am a little bit nervous, primarily because we have set ourselves up for a difficult game," he said.
"Last week we went to Perpignan, we played very well and came through what was a very tough game. What that result means, however, is that Saturday's game is now even more important. With Prato losing at home themselves (against the Dragons), it means they will come here with only one target, which is simply to get points on the board.
Newcastle head coach Alan Tait makes a handful of changes for the Pool Two away game against Petrarca as the Aviva Premiership's bottom club look to follow up their victory over Lyon last weekend.
Full-back Greg Goosen, wing Alex Tait, centre Jamie Helleur and scrum-half Will Chudley are among those who feature, with Alan Tait wary of Petrarca's threat.
"This will be their cup final and they will certainly get in our faces, so I can see it being a sticky game for us," he said. "We know what we are going over there for, it's to get an away win, which is important as we head into the Premiership game at Harlequins next week."
Worcester give first starts to fly-half Danny Gray and centre Sione Tu'ipulotu, with the pair among 10 new faces following defeat against Stade Francais last time out against Italian hosts Crociati.
"We don't know a great deal about them, certainly not as much as we did against Stade Francais," Warriors forwards coach Phil Davies said. "But we do know they are a side that like to throw the ball about and play."
Wasps, buoyed by a bonus-point victory over Bordeaux-Begles in France last weekend, should add another maximum to their Pool Three collection when Italian minnows Rovigo arrive at Adams Park on Sunday. The group already appears likely to be decided by home-and-away meetings between Wasps and Bayonne next month, with both sides currently unbeaten.
Petrarca Rugby v Newcastle Falcons
Exeter Chiefs v I Cavalieri Prato
Crociati Rugby v Worcester Warriors
Lyon v Toulon
London Wasps v Rugby Rovigo
Agen v Brive