Austin Healey breaks down how Sale Sharks ended Harlequins’ winning streak

Austin Healey Sale

Austin Healey believes that Sale Sharks created a template on how to beat Harlequins in their Gallagher Premiership encounter on Friday night.

Sale handed Harlequins their first loss of the season in an absorbing encounter at the AJ Bell Stadium, as the English champions came undone in the presence of a physical Sharks outfit.

Harlequins put in an outstanding performance against Bristol Bears last week in which they scored eight tries, but they could only cross the Sharks’ try line on three occasions last night.

Former England international Healey was speaking on BT Sport after the game and argued that Sale were able to halt Harlequins’ attack by bullying the opposition forwards on first phase carries while making life difficult for the Londoners in the rucks.

Austin Healey on Sale’s performance against Harlequins.

“In the second half I was a bit worried. I thought, ‘How are Sale going to find their way back in?’ They’ve had previous games where it’s looked exactly the same. The mistakes kept coming,” Healey said.

“But there was a real amount of grit. The defence of the forwards, particularly off first phase carries for the Quins forwards, meant that they couldn’t get any second phase ball.

“The Marcus Smiths and those backs and the [Alex] Dombrandts of the world weren’t allowed any space. The breakdowns were so piled heavy that it was actually down to the forwards [that Sale won].

“Tom Curry had an immense game and they found a way to win. And that’s what you do in the league.”

Harlequins’ backline failed to fire.

Harlequins head coach Tabai Matson acknowledged that his side was second best after the game, and admitted that he believes they were lucky to come away with a losing bonus point.

The reigning Premiership champions thrive in open games, which is something Sale would have been well aware of as they pinned Harlequins in their own territory for much of the match.

Sale have had mixed results so far this season, having won two, lost two and drawn one of their opening five games, but when they’re at their best they are clearly capable of beating the top sides.

The loss will come as a valuable lesson to a Harlequins side that are looking to build on last season’s success, having been brought back down to Earth after their try-scoring exploits against a misfiring Bristol outfit last week.

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