Sale Sharks 25-15 La Rochelle, AJ Bell Stadium
Sale Sharks battled past a 14-men La Rochelle as they registered a 25-15 win in the second round of the Heineken Champions Cup at AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday.
This is Sale Sharks' first win of the tournament as they move to the second position in the table with five points while La Rochelle are at the bottom of the table with their second defeat.
The home side dominated the early exchanges and got their first points in the seventh minute when Faf De Klerk found AJ MacGinty, who in turn offloaded to Rohan Janse van Rensburg as he crossed over. MacGinty also kicked the conversion to take them to a seven point lead.
La Rochelle levelled the scores in the 20th minute with Vincent Rattez dotting down followed by a conversion from Brock James. MacGinty's maiden penalty goal in the 32nd minute took Sale Sharks to a three-point lead but a few minutes later the visitors suffered a major setback.
First, it was Remi Leroux, who was sin-binned in the 36th minute for tackling Denny Solomona off the ball and two minutes later Pierre Bourgarit was sent-off for striking Tom Curry's face.
Despite the setback, James kicked a penalty goal after the break to level the scores 10-10 but their infringement continued to hamper them as Dany Priso was yellow-carded for collapsing a maul and to make things worse, Sale Sharks were awarded a penalty try as well making the scoreline 17-10.
Even though La Rochelle kept Sale Sharks in check for the most part of the second half despite having one man down, Steve Diamond's men finally broke the shackles with a penalty goal from MacGinty in the 72nd minute followed by a try from Chris Ashton. A consolation try from Jeremy Sinzelle in the end reduced La Rochelle's losing margin to 10 points.