Sale keep hopes alive as Stade snatch bonus

SALE director of rugby Phillipe Saint-Andre insisted his side’s Heineken Cup hopes remains alive after beating Stade Francais at Edgeley Park.

The Sharks’ European dream is hanging by a thread after they failed to secure the bonus-point victory which would have taken them to 11 points with two games remaining.

Instead, the French Championship leaders claimed a bonus point to move to 15 points in Pool Three while Ospreys are second on 14.

However, bonus-point victories in their remaining two matches – away to Italian minnows Calvisano and home to Ospreys – could yet secure Sale an improbable quarter-final spot.

Saint-Andre said: “I ask my players never to give up and we’ve won here and we’ll fight until the last game.”

Lee Thomas, who impressed at fly-half after being given the nod ahead of Daniel Larrechea, kicked three penalties and Chris Bell added a drop-goal in the opening period.

Sale failed to build on their 12-0 advantage, however, and never really looked like penetrating Stade thereafter.

A first-half penalty from Lionel Beauxis was added to late in the second half by another penalty from David Skerla to hand the Parisians a bonus point.

Stade boss Fabien Galthie was delighted to have secured a potentially priceless bonus point.

“It’s important for us to make sure that we get into the quarter-finals.”

SALE: Robinson, Foden, Mayor, Bell, Ripol, Thomas, Wigglesworth, Roberts, Titterrell, Stewart, Schofield, I. Fernandez Lobbe, Jones, Lund, Chabal.

Replacements: Faure for Roberts (51), Turner for Stewart (51), J. Fernandez Lobbe for Schofield (62), Bonner-Evans for I. Fernandez Lobbe (77).

STADE FRANCAIS: Martin Hernandez, Saubade, Messina, M. Bergamasco, Corleto, Beauxis, Fillol, Marconnet, Blin, De Villiers, Auradou, M. James, M. Bergamasco, Rabadan, Parisse.

Replacements: Skrela for Beauxis (56), Pichot for Fillol (56), Roncero for Marconnet (52), Kayser for Blin (66), Marchois for M. James (70), Burban for M. Bergamasco (40).

Referee: Nigel Owens (WRFU).

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