Daylight at the top
Sale took on second placed Stourbridge at Heywood Road in a match, quite rightly, billed as a potentially defining game in the race for promotion.
Spurred on by a healthy crowd, the blue and whites came out of the blocks like Olympic sprinters as, within a couple of minutes, Rhys Davies made a brilliant charge down and, from a resulting lineout, the forwards rumbled towards the line with Joe Kelly crashing over.
The shell-shocked visitors had barely had chance to draw breath, when, following a lengthy consultation with the touch judge, their prop was shown a straight red card and Chris Johnson was soon to extend the lead with a well struck penalty.
Sale were dominating possession and, after an arrow-like kick to the corner from Chris Johnson, the men from the Black Country could not contain the juggernaut pack, with Jake Barron this time touching down.
The away side did finally start to settle into the game, with several powerful runs from their forwards a feature, but Sale resisted the pressure and then scored a third try as Adam Aigbokhae emerged from the back of yet another powerful maul.
HT Sale 22 Stourbridge 0
Stourbridge regrouped during the interval and, despite playing with 14 men, started to compete well and justify their lofty position.
As always though, the Sale defence was proving a tough nut to crack and even when the visitors did manage to cross the line, several home players were on hand to prevent the ball reaching the turf.
The persistent rain and heavy pitch began to have more and more of a detrimental influence on proceedings and it looked as though the league leaders were going to miss out on a bonus point, as they had at Huddersfield two weeks earlier.
However, with time almost up, they broke to devastating effect as Chris Johnson put an inch perfect kick over the tiring defence. Mark Lawrence collected well from the sodden ground and offloaded for Chris Mayor to scamper in with Chris Johnson adding the extras again.
FT Sale 29 Stourbridge 0
With third place Hinckley also losing, Sale extended the gap at the top to 8 points with their 16th straight win and, with only 7 games left to play, they are in a fantastic position to achieve the dream of playing National League One rugby next season – albeit the portly lady is not exercising her vocal chords just yet!
|10/03/2018||3:00 pm||National 2 North||2017-2018|
|Sale Rugby Club, Heywood Rd, Sale M33 3WB, UK|
|Dan Birchall||Loosehead Prop||0||0||0||0|
|John Blanchard Jr||-||0||0||0||0|