This was our first game of the season and what a day it was. Glorious sunshine, a guard of honour from the minis and juniors, two of whom became Mascots for the day and a family atmosphere at Heywood Road with a bouncy castle, cake sale and raffles. Mix this with some quick running rugby and this was a superb day all around.
Make no mistake, Leicester Lions are a good team and we had a real chance to come unstuck in the first game of the season. However, a combination of old hands and new signings made Sale FC look in a different class on Saturday. Lions came to us as the third placed team at the end of last season and caused us all sorts of problems down in Leicester.
Although Lions took first blood with a penalty for not rolling away at the tackle and we missed ours from a long way out, it was pretty much the last time the Lions caused us any problems at all in a seven try demolition at Heywood Road.
Our combination of old hands and new signings paved the way with our first try, with a quick break from the ruck and beautiful offload by Tom Ailes fed to Luke James and then chipped ahead for Aaron Reed to score his first try at senior level (in his very first 15 aside game at senior level). The blistering speed of the pair at this point left Lions scrambling at the back on more than one occasion.
The second try came off the back of a some dominant forward play, and then quick hands across the park to send Ciaran Connolly into the corner for his first try of the season. Successfully converted from out wide by Chris Johnson and we were now away at the races 14-3. For some reason Lions, were chasing the tries rather than taking points from the boot when penalties were given. They went for two line outs in succession with the first leading to another penalty for a side entry at the ruck, the second was knocked on by Lions for a turnover. The next time they were in the same position, Rhys Davies stole the line out and we cleared our Ines, the subsequent defence in midfield lead to a turnover and only a foot in touch prevented a try in the opposite corner. Sale were running at pace and Lions were struggling.
Another chip ahead saw Lions scrambling in defence and without quick feet by their full back, Sam Stelmaszeck would have been in. The first half finished with another try by Ciaran Connolly after some quick hands a powerful clear out at the ruck by Rhys Davies, conversion missed and it was 19-3 at half time to Sale FC.
The Second half was more of the same but more so. The first points came from the boot after a series of penalties from Lions in their own 22 and it was 22-3 to Sale FC.
The one blip in the game was when Sale FC were on their own five metre line for a scrum and although pushing Lions off the ball it was kicked forward into the waiting hands of their Scrum Half who skirted around the scrum and was in at the corner for a well taken try. Conversion taken and it was 22-10.
The next phase of play lead to Aaron Reed Scoring his second try in the corner with a lovely offload from new Full Back Jonty Rawcliffe. Aaron was replaced shortly thereafter for a period of about 30 seconds by Matt Sturgess to make his debut who unfortunately suffered an injury which saw his replacement reversed with Aaron back on straight away.
From this point on, it was all forwards! The old adage of “Forwards win you games, but backs determine by how much”, didn’t seem to apply to the last 25 minutes of this game.
First up, a line out ten metres out, taken by new signing Jake Barron then after a series of old school “pick and go”, Chris Taylor found his way over the line to score on his debut at Heywood Road.
Now the forwards were rampant and with Joe Kelly having played brilliantly, was replaced by Simon Griffiths who only made life of the Lions front row more difficult. At this point, it looked like we might be headed to a fifty point score.
Another beautiful take by Rhys Davies at the line out, saw Chris Taylor at the back of a driving maul moving at pace over the line scoring his second try. The pack were now driving the Lions pack backwards at every scrum, the power of the subs bench may well be the key for us this season. It was obvious that in this game the subs were able to maintain intensity and then turn the screw when it was needed.
The last try was taken by Jake Barron on the last play of the game, with replacement scrum half Matt Bradley scything through the Lions defence, a loose ball was picked up and Jake landed over the line. This was a great reward for a player who joined us from Scunthorpe this season and is proving an excellent number 6, ably replacing Jamie Bache who was one of our stand out players last season. Converted again by Chris Johnson who had 13 points from the boot made this an all around performance.
Full Time Score 48-10
Caunce O’Hara Man of the Match Joseph Kelly
Westway Nissan Man of the Match Aaron Reed
Coaches Man of the Match Jonty Rawcliffe
The reality is, we could justifiably have chosen 19 players for the Man of the Match at this game (minus obviously Matt who only played 30 seconds)
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|Sale Rugby Club, Heywood Rd, Sale M33 3WB, UK|