Perpignan 24-41 Sale: Sharks see off 14-man Perpignan in Challenge Cup opener
Last Updated: 12/10/18 10:20pm
Sale were made to work hard before eventually seeing off 14-man Perpignan 41-24 to get their Challenge Cup campaign off to a winning start in France.
The Sharks played just over an hour with a man advantage after hooker Manu Leiataua was shown a straight red for a swinging arm at opposite number Rob Webber, only to find themselves 13-12 down after 37 minutes.
Perpignan soon fell behind once more but fought back to level the scores at 19-19, but second-half tries from Luke James and Byron McGuigan, which completed his hat-trick, earned Sale a hard-fought 41-24 bonus-point victory.
The French hosts came into the match on the back of a dismal run, losing all seven league games since promotion to prop up the Top 14 table, and they soon fell behind through McGuigan's first try.
Pierre Lucas levelled moments before Leiataua's 19th-minute dismissal and Sale made the home side pay immediately from the resulting penalty as Webber touched down.
Two Jonathan Bousquet penalties put Perpignan into the lead, but Rohan Janse van Rensburg instantly replied from kick off to put the visitors 19-13 ahead.
Bousquet kicked a penalty either side of half-time to bring the scores to 19-19, before James collected Faf De Klerk's inch-perfect chip to cross the whitewash and put Sale back in front.
De Klerk, who finished with a 10-point haul with the boot, added a penalty before Perpignan's resistance was finally broken as McGuigan dotted down for his second try with 12 minutes left.
McGuigan thought he grabbed his third try, only to be denied by the TMO, but completed his treble three minutes from time with a breakaway touchdown before the hosts scored a consolation try through Genesis Mamea Lemalu.