With a spirited comeback victory, EDINBURGH held their Heineken Champions Cup hopes alive, becoming second best in the first half but coming out on top in the second.
It was not to take for granted the dominance over the large Selling pack, with scrum penalties offering room and solidity for breakdowns as they had the wind at their backs.
Flanker Hamish Watson was deservedly called Man of the Match, which summed up the reason for Edinburgh’s performance.
He said, “It’s a huge win because it’s a tough place to play,” We narrowly lost our first game, so winning our second was crucial. The halftime talk was very positive because we had defended very well and just a few slip-ups and lack of focus had taken them into the game.
We knew we could build some chances if we kept the ball and we did, we dug in in the second half and kicked the full-backs well to eventually give us the upper hand.
The win leaves Edinburgh in the middle of the table, not out of contention for a spot in the Champions Cup quarter-finals and still in strong competition in the Challenge Cup.
Sale scored their first with two strong plays from full-back Sam James after Jaco van der Walt missed an early penalty attempt to open the scoring. He first took advantage of pumping a kick deep into the territory of Edinburgh and then a short line-out throw to the right wing freed wing Denny Solomona to score.
But worse was to come when Sale dispersed the ball out wide again and Mark Bennett flew off his line from the center of Edinburgh without touching his man, Rohan van Rensburg, who had a clear run to the line instead.
Perhaps the inactivity of Edinburgh is better calculated by the amount of kicks that landed without being caught on the ground, including the kick-off early in the second half, which was the sort of miss seldom seen.
The amount of scrum penalties that loosehead Rory Sutherland received against Jake Cooper-Wooley, which put his team in good positions, was on the positive side. One such penalty brought his side up to the Selling line and the attacking side of Bennett came through as he powered through and got his team back into the game after a line-out drive and a series of forays.
While both sides substituted both props, this gave Edinburgh trust and another scrum penalty, set up another attack by the visitors that ended with van der Walt further reducing the deficit with a kick into goal.
Blair Kinghorn’s deep kick brought back the pressure and Sale’s scrum-half Faf de Klerk’s attempt to win the ball back ended with another Edinburgh penalty, converted by van der Walt to give them their first lead.
The next apparent target was a spectacular one, genuinely lung-busting, and after Kinghorn had kicked his way to the try-line early on, he was finally disallowed for a forward pass.
When center Chris Dean followed a kick in an offside spot, another soft penalty allowed Sale to regain the lead through Rob du Preez’s long-range penalty.
Soon Selling went down to 14 men when Jean-Luc du Preez, number 8, shouldered Watson in a side ruck. He was fortunate to see only yellow as referee Roman Poite thought that it was not violence.
For van der Walt, the penalty was necessary to put his team back in front as time expired. The team reclaimed possession with four minutes left and managed to hold on to it in a manner mastered a few years earlier by Munster, but which was meant to be unlikely by the change in the rules of breakage.
In the end, as the clock ticked past 80 minutes, replacement scrum-half Nic Groom was able to boot the ball out of bounds.
Tries: Solomona, van Rensburg. Scorers: Selling – Tries: Con: du Preez R. R du Preez: pen.
Edinburgh – Please try: Bennett. Con: Walt van der. Pens: van der Walt Three.
Sale Sharks: S James; D Solomona (C Doherty 65), J Van Rensburg, S Hill, M Yarde; R Du Preez, F De Klerk (W Cliff 76); Rodd (R Harrison 50), A van der Merwe (C Langdon 69), J Cooper-Woolley (C Oosthuizen 50), JP Du Preez (J Phillips 69), C Wiese, S Dugdale, JL Du Preez, M Postlethwaite (C Neild 65). Substitutes: Not using L James.
R Sutherland (P Schoemann 52), S McInally (C, D Cherry 71), S Berghan (WP Nel 52), B Toolis, J Hodgson (A Ferreira 58), M Bradbur. Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; J Blain, M Bennett (J Johnstone 69), C Dean, D van der Merwe; J van der Walt, C Shiel (N Groom 48);