Sale FC welcomed Bishop’s Stortford RFC to the CorpAcq Stadium, the vistors having opened their account in National League 1 with a high scoring win over Birmingham Moseley on the previous Saturday.
It appeared as though Stortford were starting where they left off when, after just one minute, quick ball along the line found winger Duff, who beat his man leaving Captain Sam Winter free to score. The try was unconverted.Sale 0 … Bishop’s Stortford 5
More pressure from the visitors led to the award of a penalty in the 4thminute, scored by full back Cullen extending the Stortford lead .Sale 0 …Bishop’s Stortford 8 In spite of the early set back, Sale stuck to their task and showed no sign of being phased by the deficit.
On the 10 minute mark, Sale fly half collected a clearance kick and put Sale on the counter attack resulting in a penalty awarded to Sale (not releasing in the tackle) Chris Johnson duly kicked the penalty, reducing the deficit to 5 points.Sale 3… Bishop’s Stortford 8
Sale began to apply more pressure on their opponents with probing runs by Jonty Rawcliffe and Paolo Odogwu Stretching the Stortford defence leading to a clearance kick from outside the Stortford 22m line going directly into touch, consequently putting the away team on the back foot again.
In spite of Sale’s superiority at this stage, the Bishop’s Stortford defence held out, and indeed were able to counter attack on 25 minutes when Stortford captain Winter followed up a kick through the centre of the pitch, only for the effort to be unrewarded as a result of a knock on close to the Sale line.
Sale continued to stretch the opposition defence forcing a clearance kick to Sale wing Tom Brady whose skillful handling created another attacking opportunity. This attack proved pivotal, when Stortford full back Cullen was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on and was duly punished with the award of a yellow card.
Within a minute of the incident Sale scored their first try when No.8 Tom Ailes, following a well-executed line out, Sale forwards drove over the try line close to the corner flag. The kick was not converted, Sale 8 … Bishop’s Stortford 8
From the restart, Sale went on the offensive and after a passage of slick handling, winger Brady released prop Adam Aigbokhae who was eventually halted by the Stortford defence. The ball was recycled quickly and passed along the line to winger Odogwu who scored Sale’s 2ndtry. In his return to Heywood Road, the stadium name may have changed, but Paolo has scored in every home game he’s played. The try was converted by Chris Johnson, an excellent effort from close to the touchline. Sale 15… Bishop’s Stortford 8
In the closing minutes of the half, Paolo Odogwu sped into the Stortford half forcing the opposition to defend under severe pressure, clearing the ball into touch resulting in a Sale lineout.
Once again, Sale forwards won the ball cleanly , controlling the resulting drive before quickly releasing along the backs , concluding with Jonty Rawcliffe touching down for Sale’s third try .
Again, Johnson converted from a tight angle to make the score Sale 22 …Bishop’s Stortford 8.
Sale conceded 2 penalties in the closing minutes, but the visitors were unable to take advantage the score remaining unchanged at Half -Time
19 points for Sale during the period Stortford were playing with 14 men must count as an excellent return. The second half began with Bishop’s Stortford pressing the Sale defence, quickly winning a penalty. Holding off advances by the Stortford attack, Sale continued to look resolute and well organised. Penalties were exchanged between 45 and 55 minutes but neither side was able to gain an advantage. As the match progressed, attacking opportunities were limited as defence was both robust and controlled, both sides showing solid organisation and impressive work rate.
Sale came close to increasing their lead on 72 minutes when scrum half Matt Bradley broke clear with a spirited , jinking run, only to be held up 5 metres from the Stortford line , Sale then being penalised by referee Walbaum , apparently for failing to release after the tackle , a decision not met with the unanimous approval of the home crowd!
The home side was now exerting more pressure on their opponents, who, by now seemed to have run out of attacking options, Sale having dealt ruthlessly and efficiently with everything Stortford had to offer since the very first minute.
The closing 5 minutes saw Sale press beyond the Stortford 22 metre line controlling play as they sought an additional try.
It was not to be and Sale FC were deservedly victorious with neither team adding to the half-time score, the match ending Sale FC 22… Bishop’s Stortford 8
Man of the Match: Jonty Rawcliffe
Photos by: Gareth Lyons
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