Byron McGuigan scored a hat-trick as Sale Sharks came through a hot-tempered European Challenge Cup opener at Perpignan with a 41-24 triumph.
A manic opening 20 minutes saw three tries and a red card for Perpignan’s Manu Leiataua that had the home fans up in arms, before McGuigan got Sale over the line after the break.
The Scotland star had opened the scoring seven minutes in, before Pierre Lucas brought the hosts level and Leiataua was then dismissed for leading with the arm on Rob Webber.
Amid a hostile atmosphere, Webber immediately pressed home the advantage but the Sharks scored only once more before the break, through Rohan Janse van Rensburg, as a stream of penalties kept Perpignan within touch.
The atmosphere here at the Stade Amie Geral is hostile to say the very least.
A South American soccer match is the nearest comparison. #SharkTime
— Sale Sharks (@SaleSharksRugby) October 12, 2018
But after a tight start to the second half with the teams level at 19-19, Luke James went over and the floodgates opened for McGuigan to score twice more and seal his hat-trick, having initially been denied a third try moments earlier.
There was time for Genesis Mamea to cross for Perpignan in the final seconds, but it offered little consolation to incensed home fans.
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