Sale FC vs Huddersfield

21st Celebrations

Sale hosted 6thplace Huddersfield in their final home game of the season, aiming to make it 15 wins from 15 games at Heywood Road. The game kicked off in gloriously sunny conditions and the home side were quickly into their stride in front of a big crowd.

Having been awarded an early penalty, Chris Johnson opted to kick to touch and that decision proved to be a good one as, from a subsequent scrum, the blue and whites scored their first try with the fly half crashing over under the posts, assisted by the majority of the forwards.

Within minutes, the Yorkshiremen hit back as their scrum half, Joel Hinchcliffe, kicked a straightforward penalty but the home side were largely in control and, from yet more powerful forward play, Tom Ailes picked up from the back of a scrum to dive over for a second try.

Despite the heat, the league leaders continued to attack with venom and were rewarded with a third try in the 34thminute when Chris Mayor wriggled his way through the tightest of gaps in midfield before sprinting in unopposed.

The fourth try duly arrived on the stroke of half time as Huddersfield failed to deal with Sale’s dynamic scrummaging and, after three resets, the referee decided enough was enough, awarding a penalty try.

HT Sale 28 Huddersfield 3  

With the bonus point secured, Chris Johnson elected to extend the lead with an early second half penalty but Huddersfield, having a fine season themselves following promotion last year, hit back with a fine individual try from their inside centre, Harry Davey.

There followed a period of frantic rugby as both sides attacked at will but the home side put the game to bed with a fifth try in the 67thminute as replacement hooker, Chris Taylor, hacked on a loose ball before picking up and offloading for Jake Barron to score.

With time almost up, Sale scored a final try as they attacked the away side’s tiring defence at pace with Sam Stelmaszek timing his pass to perfection, allowing winger, Jack Moorhouse, to gallop in. Chris Johnson added the extras to take his points tally in the game to 18.

FT Sale 45 Huddersfield 10

Following two very close games the previous two weeks, this was an impressive performance from Sale against a hard-working Huddersfield side, and extended their winning run to an extraordinary 21 games. Promotion is tantalisingly close, but the coaches and players will not be taking anything for granted as they travel to Leicester Lions next Saturday, knowing that they require one more win from their two remaining games.


Sale FC vs Chester

Victory snatched from the jaws of defeat

Seventh placed Chester visited Heywood Road on Saturday looking to put a major dent in Sale’s promotion ambitions and from the kick off, the men in red were on the front foot.

After only four minutes, they found a gap in the home side’s defence with the number 5 eventually scoring in the corner and the fly half, James Robins, adding a fine conversion.

Sale responded almost immediately with Chris Johnson bisecting the posts with a penalty and they then took the lead. Tom Ailes and Sam Stelmaszek made good ground initially before the forwards pummelled the try line and Dan Birchall crashed over for a trademark try.

Rather than having a detrimental effect on the visitors’ morale, this stung them into a quick and positive response as they twice kicked to the corner from penalties and scored tries, the blue and whites failing to stop strong rolling mauls on both occasions.

Chris Johnson kicked another penalty in between those two scores but Sale ended the half under severe pressure and down to fourteen men as Adam Aigbokhae was shown a yellow card.

HT Sale 13 Chester 21

With the away side fully deserving their half time lead, Sale needed to start the second half strongly and they did just that. Jake Pope, on as a replacement, made a bulldozing run to open up the red’s defence and the ball was then thrown wide for Jack Moorhouse to score on his 201stappearance for the club.

Again, this did not deter the men from Chester who pulverised the Sale try line for several minutes, although this time the home side held firm, much to the relief of the sizeable home support.

With ten minutes remaining and their long winning run under severe threat, the hosts put everything into a sustained spell of pressure and, just as Chester looked to have survived, three players combined to charge down an attempted clearance with Jake Barron pouncing on the loose ball to score.

The lead was extended to nine points late on when Chris Johnson opted to kick for the posts from another penalty and this proved to be a wise decision as Chester scored a fourth try in the final minute.

FT Sale 30 Chester 28

As the coaches said afterwards, this was a fantastic game to watch from a neutral perspective but an absolute nightmare from their point of view. Chester fully deserved their two bonus points and had a right to feel disappointed at the final whistle. As for Sale, they dug deep yet again to make sure that their destiny remains in their own hands with a maximum of 15 points now required from the last four games.

In Perspective

  • Chester are the first team this season to put four tries past Sale FC (home or away)
  • This is the biggest score against Sale FC at Heywood Road since we lost to Caldy (26-38) in December 2016
  • This is the highest number of points we have conceded in a game this season (home or away)
  • Only 2 teams have scored more points against us since September 2016
    • South Leicester (39pts) 24th Sep 2016
    • Caldy (38pts)  3rd Dec 2016



Sale FC vs Stourbridge

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!


Sale FC vs Otley

Sale ease to 14th straight win

With the away fixture at Macclesfield having been postponed the week before, Sale entered the match against Otley fresh and raring to go and it didn’t take them long to open the scoring as Chris Johnson sent a soaring penalty between the uprights from almost halfway.

The first try soon followed as the forwards applied considerable pressure at a scrum and the opposing pack crumbled with the referee having no option but to give a penalty try.

The forwards were clearly straining at the leash after a week off, and one particular tackle from Rhys Davies in midfield gained audible gasps from the home crowd and probably registered more on the Richter scale than the earthquake that occurred around the same time!

The pace and power of the Sale attack was proving too much for the Yorkshiremen and Andy Hughes and Sam Stelmaszek both crossed the whitewash in quick succession following sweeping moves.

The visitors responded well with a neatly worked try of their own but this proved to be a minor hiccup as Jack Moorhouse, then Mark Lawrence finished off more incisive attacking play to stretch the lead.

HT Sale 38 Otley 5

Otley looked a different side at the start of the second half, dominating territory for a good quarter of an hour, and they were unlucky not to score a second try when the winger dropped the ball with the line in sight.

However, Sale regrouped and took control again with Gareth Rawlings sprinting from the back of a rolling maul to dive over for a sixth try.

The home side’s pack was once again proving irresistible and, when the away side failed to cope with another powerful scrum, the referee awarded a second penalty try of the match.

Sale reserved the best for last as a jet-heeled Chris Mayor left defenders in his wake on a lung busting break before the ball was recycled for Chris Johnson to score and add the simplest of conversions, taking his tally in the game to 20 points.

FT Sale 59 Otley 5

Another convincing win to keep Sale firmly in control at the top of National League 2 North with less than a third of the season to go.


Sale FC vs Tynedale

Match Report

Sale victorious in the mud

Having beaten Hinckley in the battle of the top two last week, Sale took on Tynedale, the last team they had tasted defeat against back in October.

The visitors started the game well but missed a kickable penalty, and when Chris Johnson was given a similar opportunity at the other end, he made no mistake to put the blue and whites in front.

Matt Bradley Try

Sale quickly began to build momentum and it came as no surprise when Matt Bradley slithered through a gap in the defensive line to dive in under the posts with Chris Johnson adding the extras.

Jonty Rawcliffe Try

The pitch was already cutting up badly, which made the next score even more remarkable, as Jonty Rawcliffe reached his own up and under first and showed superb footie skills before touching down under the posts.

The home side’s dominance, particularly in the scrum, was rewarded when Chris Johnson converted another penalty just before half time to put the hosts in a strong position.

HT Sale 20 Tynedale 0

Sale came out for the second half in their fluorescent change strip which made identification, if not ball handling, a little easier in the increasingly deteriorating conditions.

The forwards in particular were putting in a herculean effort and this eventually paid dividends when Tom Ailes, who had literally been on the pitch for seconds, picked up from the base of a scrum and left everybody in his wake as he sprinted in for a third try.

Penalty Try

The fourth arrived shortly afterwards as Tynedale again struggled to compete at the scrum and the referee had no option but to award a penalty try.

The men from the North East did eventually get on the scoresheet with two late unconverted tries of their own but the game was long gone as Sale secured their 13th straight win to cement their position as league leaders.

FT Sale 34 Tynedale 10


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