On a day where we welcomed over 1000 people to Heywood road to see our new signing and experience our new “Suite @Sale” we also had the small issue of trying to overcome Sedgely Tigers who were riding high and had given Sale FC a lesson when we visited them earlier in the season.
Sale are often criticised from the outside as being all about the 1st team with no depth to the club. In the past this might have been true, but the last two years since Jonathan Keep and Tote Howcroft stepped in to take over the 1st team, there’s been a change in the club. Starting with the Minis and Juniors and finishing with senior players who have shown commitment to the club above and beyond the call of duty. For the first time in years, we’ve seen players turn up when they don’t have to, helping with coaching kids, supporting the club and bringing ideas forward to help grow everything. For a great example of this , please have a look at this clip of Chris Mayor who played at Sale Sharks (scoring in the premiership final), Northampton Saints, Wigan RL, Wasps and The Barbarians, he could cruise through a game like this, but he is still throwing himself around for the cause both in attack and defence.
Chris Mayor Makes His Presence Known
The day started off with a sit down pre-match lunch in our amazing new Suite @Sale. Followed by the introduction of Tricky The Mutt, we then had a titanic struggle between a determined Sedgley Tigers and a Sale FC team with the best defensive record in National League Rugby. In the first half each team tested the other for long periods. Very few real try scoring opportunities occurred, apart from an early break by Anthony Bingham. The forwards did a great job with some powerful rolling mauls, putting Tigers on the back foot and with Chris Johnson slotting two penalties easily, Sale were soon 6-0 up. Sedgley got one back to bring us in at half time 6-3.
The game was an arm wrestle for a full 60 minutes with Sedgley having large periods of possession testing Sale’s resolute defence time and time again. A series of five metre scrums at the far end of the field showed how determined Sale were to keep Tigers from crossing the line. One infringement too many saw Tigers get a reward for an offside, with a penalty taken in front of the posts to bring us to 6-6.
This seemed to spark Sale into life and the forwards took over. Given the heavy conditions, the pick and go seemed to be the best option and with that approach Sale gained a penalty for an infringement directly in front of the new development. Sale kicked for touch and a driving maul guided Dan Birchall (arguably the player of the season so far) over the line in front of the crowd on the balcony. The atmosphere was electric and the sound deafening. The try was converted by the Chris Johnson. Sale FC 13 Tigers 6.
Fifteen minutes later off the back of a rolling maul, Jake Barron (back from concussion) stepped and went in from 20 metres to give Sedgley a mountain to climb with time running out. The conversion by Chris Johnson put Sale 14 points ahead and the game was looking all but over when an uncharacteristic mistake lead to Sedgley pouncing on a loose kick and running it back in under the posts. Sale 20 Tigers 13.
Fortunately time was up on the clock and the celebrations began. We’ve climbed from 5th to 2nd in the league in the past few weeks and have a game in hand over the league leaders Hinckley.
2017 has been an amazing year at Heywood road where we’ve not lost a single league game. This is truly a remarkable achievement for a team who were close to relegation in 2016.
Bring on 2018!
Sale FC vs Sedgley Tigers Highlights
|23/12/2017||2:15 pm||National 2 North||2017-2018|
|Sale Rugby Club, Heywood Rd, Sale M33 3WB, UK|
|Dan Birchall||Loosehead Prop||1 (64')||0||0||0|
|Chris Johnson||Centre||0||2 (65', 77')||2 (17', 21')||0|
|Jake Barron||-||1 (76')||0||0||0|
|John Blanchard Jr||-||0||0||0||0|
KO 17 21 52 52 58 62 64 65 76 77 FT