Sale FC Rugby almost certainly seal their place in National League One with a solid five point display against their Devonian visitors.
Sale FC secured their place in National League One for a second season with a hard-fought win over Plymouth Albion at the CorpAcq Stadium on Saturday.
Both teams found difficulty in establishing a rhythm in the opening minutes, Sale scoring first on 12 minutes following a break by winger Paolo Odogwu whose powerful run was halted by a somewhat cynical high tackle by Plymouth full back Dan Powell.
The resulting penalty was skillfully dispatched into touch close to the corner flag by fly half Emiliano Calle Rivas and from the resulting line out, Sale drove to the line, Stone Priestley – Nangle scoring the opening try.
Within 2 minutes Plymouth full back Dan Powell found space to run clear and level the scores. Sale quickly re-established a slender lead with a Calle Rivas penalty on 15 minutes.
The two sides effectively cancelled each other out during the next period of play until Plymouth gained the advantage following a sustained attack which culminated in the unlikely figure of prop forward James Kenny appearing in the back line and finding a large enough gap in the Sale defence to slip through and score.
The try was converted by fly half Connor Eastgate.
Having edged ahead, the visitors were unable to retain the lead for long as Sale winger Odogwu created space for himself to break clear and sprint 70 metres to score under the posts. Calle Rivas added the extra points.
With just one minute to play before half time, Plymouth regained the lead with a try by Eastgate to give the away team a slender 17 points to 15 lead going into the second half.
A Calle Rivas penalty restored Sales lead which was extended when Robbie Povey scored with a penetrating break from 25 metres.
What might have been a pivotal moment came minutes later when Sale prop Dan Birchall was shown a red card having been adjudged to have stamped on an opponent.
The incident seemed to galvanise the home side who defended with tremendous spirit and then broke to within 5 metres of the Plymouth line.
Sale captain Andy Hughes disrupted the away team’s lineout throw, hooker Neil Briggs on hand to scoop up the ball and score giving Sale’s 14 men an 11-point cushion.
Plymouth substitute Frank Kelly reduced the deficit with a try after some slick handling by Plymouth. As the match entered the closing 10 minutes, numerical parity was established as Plymouth replacement Will Norton was shown a yellow card.
Povey was successful with his penalty kick leaving Plymouth with a 9-point gap to close.
Sale stuck manfully to their task showing tremendous spirit to close out the game and securing a bonus point win to guarantee League One rugby next season.
To watch the highlights from the game please use the link here