Sale top again after devastating late burst
On Saturday, Sale travelled the relatively short distance to play local rivals Macclesfield, in a game they knew they had to win to go back above Sedgley Park at the head of the table, following their win at Wharfedale less than 48 hours earlier.
As you would expect, the game started with no quarter given by either side, but the hosts were dominating territory and should have taken the lead when they were awarded a penalty which the winger sliced wide.
The visitors, in their luminous away strip, took advantage immediately as a wave of attacks ended in the ball being thrown out wide for Gareth Rawlings to score in the corner.
Macclesfield, however, continued to control possession and only Sale’s famed defence stood between them and a try on several occasions.
Starved of any meaningful ball, the away side were reliant on the boot of Chris Johnson to extend their lead before half time with two successful penalties.
HT Macclesfield 0 Sale 11
The second half began more evenly and was punctuated with several supercharged sprints from hooker, Neil Briggs, who was having an outstanding game.
One such run took the promotion hopefuls deep into the host’s half and led to a barrage of forward-led attacks on the try line, with Dan Birchall eventually crashing over for the second try.
This wave of pressure appeared to suck the life out of the home side’s resistance and, with less than 15 minutes remaining, Sale began attacking at will in search of more tries.
From yet another barnstorming break from Neil Briggs, the ball was recycled for Jonty Rawcliffe to scamper in for the third try and with the game effectively won, the only remaining question was whether the visitors could score the all-important bonus point try.
This duly arrived with three minutes remaining as Chris Johnson put an exquisite kick behind the defensive line for Jack Moorhouse to touch down, the former adding the conversion.
Perhaps that try was destined to be part of the script on Jack’s 200th appearance for the club (a quite superb achievement). He then showed that he’s lost none of his potency as he collected a high ball in the last minute and turned on the afterburners to sprint in for the fifth try of the afternoon.
FT Macclesfield 0 Sale 37
For so long this was a tight game, but to not concede a point and then produce such a sparkling last 15 minutes of running rugby to clinch the bonus point win is testament to the quality and fitness of this team.
With Five games left, Sale FC have the league in their hands. However, the chasing pack aren’t making any mistakes, so any slip up at this stage could prove costly.