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Cipriani sends Sale into semis as Wasps bow out
WASPS' unbeaten record at Adams Park has been consigned to the history books after they let themselves down in losing 33-30 to Sale Sharks in the LV=Cup this afternoon.
Admittedly Wasps had nothing to gain in the competition while Sale have surged into the semi-finals with this result, but that is scant consolation and no excuse for a powderpuff performance.
Yellow cards just before and after half time sealed their fate, with Sale scoring three tries while Wasps were down to 13 men, but five away tries in total tells the story of a performance that lacked most of heart and all of the intensity of last week's hammering at Welford Road, when a team of understudies died with their boots on.
In contrast, Wasps were pretty limp today and the smattering of first teamers were unable to raise the level; it's highly unlikely they'll appear quite as flat when they return to the Aviva Premiership at Harlequins next Saturday.
Tom Varndell, Stephen Jones, Zak Taulafo and Marco Wentzel were all recalled with Wasps' Wycombe record in mind, but in the end it was a former Wasp who provided the game's lasting memory as Danny Cipriani purred over from 30m for Sale's fifth and best score.
It was the fly half's first return to Wycombe since he left in 2010, but until then his performance only proved why his star has waned so drastically since then.
He landed most of his goalkicks, but for the most part blended into the averageness around him.
In fact, he'd barely had a touch by the time Wasps went in front with five minutes on the clock.
A forward pass gave them an attacking scrum in the middle of the pitch, and a move straight from the training ground saw Sam Jones and Charlie Davies link up to send Charlie Hayter under the posts.
Stephen Jones converted for 7-0, but the Sale forwards roused themselves strongly and after an 18th minute penalty try they crashed over again through lock Kearnan Myall four minutes later.
Cipriani converted both, but without ever being anything more than workmanlike Wasps inched back in front by half time through penalties from Jones and Tommy Bell.
Each player missed once more off the tee tee in a ragged first half, but those six points were rendered academic as Sale put Wasps to the sword in ten destructive minutes at the start of the second half.
Wasps were down to 13 players at the time, with Davies and Will Taylor going off either side of half time, and Sale showed no mercy with three tries to kill off the game.
Sam Tuitupou was driven over after 42 minutes, Tommy Taylor brushed off two powder-puff tackles to go over again before Cipriani rolled back the years with a subtle dummy and a bit of pace to dive over in the corner.
The former Wasps ten converted four of the five scores and 33-16 with 25 minutes spelled the end for the home team.
Bell's solo charge ignited a strong finish, Varndell spilled the ball over the line and Davies and Sam Jones did snipe over in a spirited end, but this horse had long since bolted.