Sale FC took on Cinderford RFC in this opening fixture of the National League 1 season at the CorpAcq stadium.
Conditions looked ideal for rugby. Sale, however, struggled to get into their stride conceding possession and penalties from which the visitors took full advantage when on 5 minutes, a well-executed lineout from 10 metres gave the Cinderford forwards the platform to drive over the Sale try line, hooker Nathan Taylor the scorer. Fly half James Butler converted.
More unforced errors from Sale returned the advantage to Cinderford who scored a second try on 12 minutes following a break by centre Jack Hayes who fed winger Sam Smith whose pace was too much for the covering defence as he scored close to the corner flag. Butler added the extra points with a well-judged kick from the touchline, extending the lead to 14 points.
Butler kicked a straightforward penalty on 16 minutes. At this point, with Sale trailing 17 points to nil, the home side did begin to regain some momentum but were generally lacking a cutting edge.
Having stemmed the tide, Sale conceded another penalty on 30 minutes following a high tackle by centre Fergus Mulchrone. Butler extended the Cinderford lead to 20 points.
At this point Sale made a tactical switch, with fly half Chris Johnson replacing full back Jonty Rawcliffe, Emiliano Calle Rivas dropping into the full back position.
The change almost had an immediate impact as Johnson kicked deep into the Cinderford 22, with winger Jack Moorhouse following up and charging down the clearance. A try looked to have been scored, but was disallowed.
Sale kept up the pressure and were finally on the scoreboard with a debut try from winger Patrick Ah Van.
With just seconds to go before half time Sale were awarded a penalty which Johnson drilled into touch inside the Cinderford 22. A textbook catch and drive saw the home team scoring, Jake Barron the try scorer on his return to action after a season long injury lay off.
Johnson converted the try reducing the deficit to eight points, Sale 12 – Cinderford 20 at half time.
With just 6 minutes of the second half played, Cinderford’s Butler intercepted a mis placed pass from Calle Rivas and ran clear to score, he duly added the extra 2 points.
Sale stuck to their task and within three minutes reduced the deficit with a try from hooker Ollie Longmore.
The Sale cause was further damaged when Johnson received a yellow card having been adjudged to have committed a high tackle.
With the Sale pack under pressure from Cinderford, the visitor’s number eight, Harry Hone drove over the line, Butler converting.
Minutes later Cinderford were gifted another try when a wayward pass from Calle Rivas was intercepted by Ed Bogue for the away teams fifth try of the day.
The sixth wasn’t long in coming, substitute Matthew Lane scoring to stretch the lead to 29 points.
To their credit, Sale fought hard to prevent any further scoring from the visitors and did manage a try of their own from substitute Teddy Leatherbarrow.
Final Score: Sale FC 22 Cinderford 46
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