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Cardiff Blues travel to Sale Sharks on Saturday looking for a third straight win in Challenge Cup Pool 2, one that would keep them top going into Round 4. This will be the first meeting between the clubs in the Challenge Cup, however they have met six times previously in the top flight, with the home side on the day winning each fixture.
· Sale lost their last match against Lyon, but have not been beaten in consecutive pool games since December 2010 when they were beaten home and away by Brive.
· The Blues have lost four of their last five games away to Aviva Premiership opposition including each of their last two in a row, both defeats coming by 20+ points.
· 10 Sale players have played the full 80 minutes in both games so far this season, no other side has more than six players to play every possible minute this season.
· Sale’s Andrei Ostrikov has made 39 tackles from 41 attempts so far this season, more than any other player in the Challenge Cup.
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Sale Sharks earned a crucial 24-0 victory over Pool 2 leaders Cardiff Blues in the European Rugby Challenge Cup at the AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday.
- Sale Sharks fly-half AJ MacGinty kicked 14 points from the kicking tee, while Will Cliff and Marc Jones contributed the only tries of the match as the Premiership side moved within two points of Cardiff Blues at the Pool 2 summit.
- Ireland-born USA international MacGinty opened the Sale Sharks tally in the third minute and went to add another penalty halfway through the first half, before extending the hosts' advantage to nine points before the interval.
- MacGinty pushed Sale Sharks even further in front eight minutes after the break as Cardiff Blues were left frustrated an unable to break down the stoic home defence.
- Such frustration led to unforced errors from Cardiff Blues and Sale Sharks scrum-half Cliff seized on a spilled ball by the visitors to charge home and dot down the opening try of the match under the posts on the hour mark.
- MacGinty added the extras before hooker Jones bundled over in the corner to complete a fine afternoon for the Sale Sharks as they moved into third place in Pool 2, with an opportunity to overtake Cardiff Blues next weekend in the return fixture at Cardiff Arms Park.
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