After last week’s massive performance against Stourbridge where Sale put on a big first half display, we were expecting more of the same at Heywood road against Leicester Lions. We’ve played Lions three times before in the last two seasons and have yet to best the third placed team. In October, they gave us a bit of a going over and we left with a 23-5 loss. Saturday was a very different affair.
After only two minutes the ball was spun wide and Ciaran Connolly making his return to Heywood Rd finished off a stunning move with an overlap to score in front of the packed Steve Smith Bar. Sale always enjoy playing toward the club house, but today was real treat. We saw some powerful running from Tom Ailes pretty much every time he picked up the ball, the forwards were rampant and unlike in previous outings at Heywood road, the penalties in dangerous areas were now going our way. Before the ten-minute mark, Liam McGovern popped one over and we were 10-0, after a missed penalty from Lions, Liam had two more shots at points and nailed them both, leading us into the clubhouse at half time with a 16-0 lead. This was a very different game to the last time these two sides met. Sale were ruthless in the first half and although they could have scored more points, and many would say they should have, the Lions didn’t get even a sniff at the Sale line. At half time, the Sale Coach Tote Howcroft was clear that this 40 minutes was better than the previous weeks.
The second half was more of the same with Matthew Neary going over the whitewash out wide which lead to a near miss on the conversion. This was essentially game over after 55 minutes. Lions finally manage some sustained pressure on the Sale line, with a penalty lineout for a catch and drive five meters out. Fortunately for Sale, in front of a very vocal crowd, the line out went long and the pressure was relieved.
In the past few outings Sale have shown a red zone defence that has been rock solid, first against, Luctonians, then Stourbridge and now Leicester Lions. The final 25 minutes was a combination of Sale closing out the game with Lions running out of options on the counter attack. Director of rugby, Jonathan Keep, believes that this game was the best of Sale this season so far.
This four-point win puts us 17 points ahead of the chasing pack and although Lions have a game in hand, the playoff spot is now ours to lose.
Next week we are away to Harrogate, who although struggling early in the season with 6 straight loses, they’ve picked up some steam and now sit mid table. This isn’t a simple “turn up and win” for Sale, Harrogate caused our pack all sorts of problems down at Heywood road and in front of their home crowd may well cause us even more problems.
Man of the Match was presented to Tom Ailes by our Match Day Sponsor Founder Dominic Kent from Meandmymates.com
|11/02/2017||2:15 pm||National 2 North||2016-2017||90'|
|Sale Rugby Club, Heywood Rd, Sale, Sale M33 3WB, UK|
|Matthew Neary||1 (55')||0||0||0|
|Ciaran Connolly||1 (2')||0||0||0|
|Liam McGovern||0||1 (3')||3 (9', 20', 24')||0|
KO 2 3 9 20 24 52 52 55 58 66 66 FT