Burns leaves mark on Sale
Freddie Burns contributed 26 points as Gloucester opened their LV= Cup defence with a 58-27 win over Sale.
Last Updated: 15/10/11 5:33pm
Freddie Burns contributed 26 points as a late flurry saw LV= Cup champions Gloucester begin their defence with a seven-try success over Sale at Kingsholm.
The Cherry-and-Whites led 20-17 at the break with the help of a Lesley Vainikolo try and a wonderful solo effort from Jonny May.
Further tries followed from skipper Luke Narraway, Scott Lawson, Rory Lawson, Charlie Sharples and fly-half Burns, who also kicked 21 points, as the hosts gained revenge for last weekend's Premiership defeat against the same opposition.
Sale, who had three players sin-binned, had been level at 27-all after 55 minutes having registered tries through debutant Richie Vernon, Andrew Higgins and Rob Miller, while Nick Macleod contributed 12 points.
But they fell away badly in the final quarter to end up on the wrong end of a heavy scoreline.
Sale made an atrocious start as their failure to gather the kick-off paved the way for Vainikolo to smash through Charlie Amesbury's weak tackle to score inside a minute.
Burns added the conversion but Sale hit back immediately.
Wing Tom Brady started a counter-attack from deep, and linked well with skipper David Seymour and wing Charlie Amesbury to eventually send Vernon cantering over, with MacLeod's conversion levelling the scores.
Burns missed a penalty chance to put the hosts back in front but McLeod made no such mistake after May had launched an ill-advised Gloucester counter.
The enterprising opening continued as Vainikolo and James Simpson-Daniel combined well, although the winger was just stopped short, but Burns slotted two penalties in quick succession, with the latter infringement seeing Sale lose James Gaskell to the bin for pulling back a support runner in another threatening home attack.
Sale again responded. Seymour made the initial yards with Amesbury and full-back Miller sending Higgins in unopposed for his first Sharks try, which MacLeod converted.
A moment of genius from full-back May then swung the balance back in Gloucester's favour, the youngster received the ball just inside his own half before outpacing Higgins and stepping two more defenders for a tremendous solo score, converted by Burns, that gave the home side the lead at the break.
But that advantage did not last long as an opportunistic hack and regather by Seymour gave Scott Mathie the space to let Miller step inside the cover to stroll over for Sale's third converted try just three minutes into the second half.
Gloucester hit back by turning the screw in the forward exchanges after Amesbury clumsily fumbled behind his own line.
The home pack pummelled their opponents at a series of five-metre scrums which eventually saw Sharks and Scotland prop Alasdair Dickinson sin-binned.
And, with referee Neil Hennessy steadfastly refusing to award a penalty try when one was clearly warranted, the Cherry and Whites made their ascendancy pay as another brutal drive allowed Narraway to crash over.
With Burns in the blood bin Tim Taylor added the extras, but once more Gloucester could not hold their lead, a penalty straight from the restart allowing MacLeod to slot his second penalty and make it 27-all.
Burns soon returned to the fray but was wide of the mark with his latest penalty shot, but was back on target from 45 metres just before the hour mark.
The four-try bonus point was then sealed when replacement hooker Scott Lawson claimed a converted score as he rumbled over from a controlled driving maul.
Vernon became the third Shark to earn a 10-minute rest after cynically slowing the ball down, and a panic from the resulting scrum saw Rory Lawson pounce on a charged down kick to dot down.
And the numerical advantage saw a tiring Sharks side concede again late on as Sharples completed a straightforward finish, before Burns ran in an interception at the death.