A dogged display on a gloomy, chilly afternoon saw Sale FC defeat Rotherham Titans by a single point in this tense National League 1 fixture.
Despite the conditions, both teams looked to get on the front foot, but solid defence and occasional handling errors limited scoring opportunities.
The breakthrough came on 20 minutes when, following some sustained Titans pressure, full back Callum Irvine burst into the Sale 22, although well marshalled by the Sale defence, Titans’ second row Kieran Frost was able to drive over the line. Ellis Abrahams added the extra points.
Sale attacked from the restart with full back Jonty Rawcliffe sending a succession of towering kicks deep into the Titans’ 22.
A critical moment in the game came on 27 minutes when a late, high tackle on Rawcliffe earned Titans’ Luis Ball a yellow card and a 10 minute stay in the sin bin.
From the penalty, Rawcliffe found touch 10 metres from the Titans’ try line from which Sale forwards mounted a succession of driving mauls , inching their way to the line and prop Joe Kelly diving over from two metres leaving Sale trailing by just two points.
Two minutes in to the second half, Titans’ winger Henry Roberts exploited a gap in the Sale defence sprinting to the line and scoring in the corner.
Minutes later Sale levelled the score again when Rawcliffe powered in the Titans’ half, supported by substitute hooker Christian Taylor who skilfully off- loaded to Anthony Bingham whose lightening acceleration saw him score by the corner flag.
With Sale FC trailing by two points with almost 30 minutes remaining, neither team seemed able to take control of the match.
Then on 70 minutes, a slick Sale attack led to a penalty against Titans for offside. Matthew Bradley kicked the points giving Sale the lead and a final score of 13 – 12.
For the final 10 minutes of the match Sale exerted a robust and disciplined defence of their slender lead , with centre Johnny Leota taking the ball to Titans on every opportunity , creating a solid platform to retain possession and hold on to the lead.
Captain Andy Hughes blocks a kicks from Rotherham’s Joe Barker (c) Mark Ferriss – All Star Photography
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