Sale Survive Again
Sale travelled to the North East at the weekend to play relegation threatened Blaydon at Kingston Park, the home of Newcastle Falcons.
The match got underway in near perfect conditions and the hosts were immediately into their stride on the 4G pitch, throwing the ball about at will to their speedy backs. It was therefore no surprise when they took the lead in the 18thminute as the outside centre picked up a loose ball on halfway and raced away to score.
The response from the blue and whites was almost instantaneous as, from a very strong scrum deep in Blaydon territory, the pack pushed towards the line with Tom Ailes picking up to crash over and level the scores.
However, Blaydon shook off that setback to plunder two more quick tries, the first from a kick through that bounced kindly and the second from another brisk counter attack, to take a healthy interval lead.
HT Blaydon 17 Sale 5
For the second week running, the table toppers were up against it but they got themselves back in the game in the 52ndminute as they took a quick tap penalty with the ball eventually going wide for Jon Blanchard to evade the covering defence.
Momentum then swung the way of the Geordies again as Sam Stelmaszek was shown a yellow card for a tip tackle before the men in red scored a ‘length of the field’ fourth try.
With fifteen minutes remaining, Sale needed a minor miracle to extend their winning run to 20 games but they got themselves a lifeline as Dan Birchall blasted through the defensive line to score following wave after wave of attack.
This seemed to galvanise the visitors and, within five minutes, they took the lead for the first time in the match as they again pulverised the opposition try line before Tom Ailes dived over for his second, and Sale’s fourth try of the game.
With five minutes remaining, Chris Johnson, extended the lead to five points with a penalty from in front of the posts and, with time running out, the blue and whites scored a decisive fifth try as superb attacking play led to Matt Simpson sauntering over from close range.
FT Blaydon 24 Sale 36
For the second week running, Sale were not at their best, but there can be no denying the spirit and dogged determination of this team to find a way to win rugby matches at this crucial stage of the season. Just 3 games now remain with 9 points required for promotion (as finishing level with Sedgley on points we’d still finish top due to wins) but, as Blaydon proved, there are no easy games at this level.