La Rochelle edge past Sale Sharks to reach final of Challenge Cup

Chris Ashton's try went in vain for Sale Sharks
Chris Ashton's try went in vain for Sale Sharks

La Rochelle 24-20 Sale Sharks, Stade Marcel Deflandre

La Rochelle managed to hold Sale Sharks as they sealed a 24-20 win at Stade Marcel Deflandre to reach the final of the European Challenge Cup.

The French side will now take on Clermont Auvergne in the final next month.

Sale Sharks were awarded a penalty try in the 13th minute by referee Nigel Owens after a line-out maul was brought down by Victor Vito, who was shown a yellow-card as well. The rest of the first quarter saw Ihaia West and Aj MacGinty trade penalties as the scoreline became 3-8.

Sale Sharks also had their own trouble with Denny Solomona sin-binned in the 24th minute for a high tackle that prevented La Rochelle from scoring and as a result Owens awarded a penalty try to the French side.

La Rochelle capitalised on the momentum as they saw Kini Murimurivalu dotting down few minutes later while a conversion from West made the scoreline 17-10 before Sale Sharks went on to level the score with a touchdown from Chris Ashton in the 34th minute.

Both teams were desperate to start the second half well but it was La Rochelle, who got off the block quick with a try from Gregory Alldritt and West's conversion gave them a seven point lead.

When 10 minutes were left in the game, MacGinty slotted a penalty goal to bring down the gap to four points but Sale Sharks failed to make any further breakthrough as La Rochelle held on to a four-point win despite Jules Favre yellow-carded in the added minutes.