Perpignan 24-41 Sale Sharks, Stade Aime Giral
Sale Sharks made a promising start to their European Rugby Challenge Cup campaign as they went on to complete a 41-24 bonus point win over Perpignan riding on a hat-trick from Byron McGuigan in their Pool 3 encounter at Stade Aime Giral on Friday.
McGuigan got Sale off to a promising start with a seventh minute try followed by a conversion from Faf de Klerk but the home side bounced back with a touchdown from Pierre Lucas in the 17th minute that was improved by Jonathan Bousquet as the scores were levelled 7-7.
Perpignan's return to the Challenge Cup was hampered when hooker Manu Leiataua was sent-off in the 19th minute for a strike on Sale's Rob Webber and the latter scored from the resulting line-out as Sale had a lead of five points.
Despite being down to 14-men, the Top14 side managed three penalties through the boots of Bousquet but Steve Diamond's side had a slender 16-19 lead heading into the break with Rohan Janse van Rensburg crossing over in the 38th minute followed by a conversion from de Klerk.
Bousquet with his fourth helped Perpigan level the scores at the start of the second half but Luke James with his 57th minute try restored five point lead for Sale Sharks. Things turned from bad to worse for Perpignan as they were reduced to 13-men temporarily when replacement Alban Roussel was sin-binned in the 63rd minute that also de Klerk slotting a penalty goal.
Sale Sharks applied further pressure and eventually the hosts succumbed to it as they conceded two more tries to McGuigan in the 69th and 77th minutes and despite a late try from Genesis Mamea , Perpignan lost the game by a 24-41 margin.
Sale Sharks next will take on Connacht at AJ Bell Stadium on 20th October while Perpignan will visit Bordeaux-Begles in the second round.