On Saturday, Sale FC travelled to Scunthorpe for the first time in their history. We arrived on a day where Scunthorpe were raising money for Prostate Cancer research and we were asked to wear something Blue in aid of the charity. After receiving the club shield from Scunthorpe FC President, Sale FC Club President Richard Trickey moved away from rugby for a moment to give a moving speech about the cancer that men too often ignore. He eloquently and bluntly “encouraged” men to get themselves checked before it was too late. The meal and raffle raised nearly £400 and we were pleased to be involved in their efforts for this worthwhile cause.
Unfortunately for Scunthorpe, the Sale FC team weren’t quite as charitable on the pitch. During a clinical 30 minutes, Sale scored seven unanswered tries against a shell-shocked Scunthorpe. The home team were missing many of their regular 1st team players, with two players brought up from the second team. They acquitted themselves well, but were more used to playing against teams of the calibre of Grimsby 2nd XV than a Sale FC 1st XV chasing promotion. The gulf was sometimes stark, but to their credit Scunthorpe never stopped and never gave up.
For the first 17 minutes the match was quiet with both teams looking for the weaknesses in the opposition and often more importantly trying to adjust to the footing which was treacherous in places. When the first try came for Ollie Longmore crashing over from a rolling maul at short range the signs for Scunthorpe looked ominous and with Liam McGovern converting from an easy angle, it was 7-0 after 18 minutes.
Two minutes later, Paolo Odogwu carved through at pace for a lovely interchange back and forth to receive the ball and score pretty much under the posts for the easiest conversion of the day, 21 minutes in and it was 14-0. Just eight minutes later and it was Chris Johnson’s turn for his first try of the day, conversion again by Liam McGovern for a 21-0 lead and we were only just a quarter of the way through the game.
Barely a minute later and Sam Stelmaszek went over to score after a quick dart through, conversion again by Liam McGovern who was looking imperious with the boot and kept kicking them over from even more acute angles. Scunthorpe were starting to lose shape, and although they kept their tackle rate up, the heaviness of the pitch wasn’t doing them any favours as they spent most of the time trying to defend against a rampaging Sale.
Ollie Longmore went over for his second try from slightly further out this time and it was duly converted by Liam McGovern once more and it was now 38-0. Closing in on half time and Jamie Bache went over, again converted by Liam McGovern and we were 42-0 at the 40-minute mark.
Half Time 42-0
Sale FC headed off to the changing rooms for the half time team talk, but Scunthorpe stayed on the pitch for theirs and it seemed to have some benefit as they came out with a bit more confidence stringing some plays together to put Sale under some pressure. The second half also marked the Sale FC debut for scrum half Matthew Bradley. Not five minutes into his debut and he looked right at home, quick distribution helping Chris Johnson to go in for his second try of the day. Converted by Liam McGovern whose only real issue seemed to be the heckling coming from the crowd (which turned out to be his own dad who claims it was encouragement). 46 minutes into the game and the score was already approaching the half century 49-0 to Sale.
As with all games of this type, suddenly the dominating team takes its foot of the gas, the losing team relaxes a bit and starts to play with no pressure and Scunthorpe pulled one back with a well-deserved try for Lock Nick Dyson converted by Stephen Johnson to stem the tide and get Scunthorpe off the mark, 49-7 with just over 20 minutes to go.
Unfortunately for Scunthorpe and with legs starting to tire on a heavy pitch, Director of Rugby, Jonathan Keep took the field for his first National Two outing this season, to add a bit of “experience” to the Sale side. Joe Kelly then used a “Maori Side Step” to plough over his opposite number for a try in the corner followed by the inevitable conversion from out wide to make the score 56-7 with 4 minutes left on the clock. With the clock running down, Ciaran Connolly went over to ease us to 61-7 for our biggest win of the season although to the astonishment of many, Liam McGovern pulled his kick to miss for the only time in the match.
Sale FC were without our top try scorer, Jack Moorhouse two of our first-choice pack in Matt Postelthwaite and Andrew Hughes, however, we have strength in depth and it showed against Scunthorpe.