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Delighted Welsh win again
12:01am Saturday 22nd September 2012 in Sport
Gordon Ross kicked 19 points as London Welsh secured their second consecutive Aviva Premiership triumph with an excellent 29-19 win over Sale Sharks at the Salford City Stadium.
The result lifted the Exiles – firm favourites for relegation at the start of the season – to a heady seventh in the table In a first half dominated by the visitors, both Jon Mills and Ed Jackson touched down and Ross made five successful kicks as Welsh built a 23-9 lead.
Danny Cipriani responded with three penalties in a poor Sharks showing.
Ross stretched the lead in the second half before the hosts hit back through a Tom Brady try and a Nick Macleod three-pointer. However, it was not enough as they fell to their fourth defeat of the campaign – they were even denied a bonus point.
Sale went into the game having lost their opening three matches, against Exeter Chiefs, Saracens and Harlequins.
By contrast, their opponents were on a high after defeating Exeter – the club’s first victory in the Premiership.
And it was the Exiles who came out firing, displaying the no-fear attitude which saw them overcome the Chiefs.
Ross got the visitors off to the perfect start when he kicked an early penalty after the hosts had strayed offside, before they went 10-0 up with a close-range try.
The Oxford-based outfit built up build pressure on the sale defence whichfolded as Mills touched down after several phases, with Ross converting.
The fly half added another penalty to extend the advantage before the home side finally got a foothold in the match.
If there was one criticism that could be levelled at Welsh's performance in the opening half, it was the penalty count against them.
With Cipriani in decent form with the boot, they were punished twice in two minutes as the Manchester team reduced the deficit to seven points.
However, last season’s Championship play-off winners continued to play with exceptional composure.
Although Sharks stand-off Cipriani converted his third three-pointer, Ross immediately responded with one of his own to take the score to 16-9.
And with the half drifting towards its conclusion, Jackson popped up for his second try in two games, Ross adding the extras, to give the Exiles an impressive 14-point cushion.
Any thoughts that Welsh would rest on their laurels were dispelled early in the second period when Phil Mackenzie broke the gain-line.
Despite the move eventually breaking down, the away team were awarded a penalty soon after which Ross duly slotted between the uprights.
Cipriani was replaced after 52 minutes, Nick Macleod taking his place, to end what was a frustrating evening for the England international.
The change seemed to do the trick. After a period of pressure on the visiting line, Brady went through one tackle before touching down.
Macleod converted as Sale reduced the arrears to 26-16 with just over 20 minutes to go.
Macleod cut into that lead further with three more points, but Welsh sealed the win when Ross completed a fine personal performance with another from the tee.