Sale FC Rugby secured a five point victory over the visitors Chinnor Rugby in a fine display at the CorpAcq Stadium.
Sale FC took a huge step towards safety in National League 1 with an impressive victory over mid table side Chinnor.
The opening exchanges saw a combination of resolute defending and unforced errors in equal measure, neither side being able to take advantage until, in the 17th minute, Sale prop Simon Griffiths was penalised at the ruck allowing Chinnor’s Bertie Hopkin the opportunity to kick for goal which he duly accepted.
Sale were penalised at the restart conceding possession to Chinnor. The Sale defensive effort soon reaped rewards forcing two penalties in quick succession, the latter in Kieron Wilkinson’s goal kicking range.
Captain Andy Hughes, however, chose to go for the corner, his positive approach rewarded with a try from hooker Christian Taylor, converted by Wilkinson.
Sale clearly looking to play expansive, entertaining rugby were undone when Chinnor intercepted and broke from halfway.
Despite an excellent covering tackle by Connor Docherty on leading try scorer Craig Holland, 2nd row forward Matt Postlethwaite was penalised at the ruck, an infringement which merited a yellow card.
From the resultant penalty, Chinnor mounted a driving maul, culminating in a try for Ben Thomas, converted by Hopkin. The second half restarted with a poor kick by Hopkin gifting good possession to Sale, a Wilkinson penalty quickly took Sale to the opposition 22. A well-orchestrated lineout laying the platform for winger Paolo Odogwu to threaten the try line.
Although initially halted by the Chinnor defence, superb support from the Sale forwards enabled prop Dan Birchall to drive over the line. Wilkinson added the extra points to give Sale a four point lead.
As Chinnor tried to regain the initiative, Sale defended with discipline and determination, ultimately bringing about a penalty kick which Wilkinson fired deep into the opposition half.
From the resulting lineout a break by winger Ed O’Keeffe took Sale to the try line but the ball was held up. At the scrum which followed a superb effort from the Sale pack dominated the opposition, forcing a penalty try.
The visitors rallied with an impressive forward effort taking them close to the Sale line. From A scrum, Chinnor substitute Tom Burns broke from the base and after a series of phases the ball found Holland who scored, Hopkin converting.
Two minutes later a Wilkinson penalty restored Sale’s seven point advantage.
As the match entered the final 10 minutes, Chinnor took advantage of a mis directed Sale lineout leading to wing forward Joe Dancer with space to sprint some 50 metres to the Sale line scoring in the corner.
Hopkin didn’t add the extra points leaving Sale with a slim two point lead.
Sale rose to the challenge taking advantage of a knock on near the Chinnor 22, winning the scrum Matt Bradley fed O’Keeffe, Sale forwards in support, Postlethwaite took the ball to the line, the drive culminating with hooker Taylor scoring his second try of the match.
Wilkinson added the extras and with time ebbing away Sale closed the game out ending up winners of an entertaining match by 31 points to 22.
To watch the match highlights of the game v Chinnor Rugby please follow the link here.