Newcastle Falcons left the AJ Bell Stadium empty-handed on Friday night as Sale Sharks claimed the spoils in the Gallagher Premiership’s northern ‘derby’.
Leading 18-6 at half-time and holding firm during the second period, the Sharks made the most of Newcastle’s failure to capitalise on a series of close-range line-outs.
The visitors gave themselves work to do almost right from the off, losing their first lineout and conceding a try within two minutes when the TMO judged Marland Yarde to have stayed in-field at the left corner.
AJ MacGinty added an impressive touchline conversion, Newcastle growing into the game and earning some field position through the boot of Louis Schreuder.
But they were two tries down inside 15 minutes when the TMO again ruled in the Sharks’ favour, Lood de Jager collecting an impressive inside offload to score an unconverted try in the right corner.
The Falcons managed to get their hands on the ball and earned at least some reward for their efforts on the half-hour mark – a flowing period of phase play seeing Brett Connon slotting a penalty from the left as the hosts infringed at ruck time.
MacGinty nudged the hosts’ lead back to 12 with a straightforward penalty from in front, Connon replying in kind with a similarly simple effort only for MacGinty to repeat the trick on 39 minutes for an 18-6 half-time lead.
Newcastle began the second half brightly, earning a pair of penalties in the home 22 but failing to make them count as their close-range line-out did not produce points.
The boot of Connon was one facet of their game which was continuing to fire, however, the fly-half maintaining his 100% kicking streak with a 40-metre penalty in a central position.
The home side were reduced to 14 men when prop WillGriff John was shown a yellow card for a no-arms clear-out just before the hour mark, Newcastle again not profiting from a red-zone line-out as Sale cleared to safety.
The Sharks made the most of a rare foray into the Falcons’ half when MacGinty slotted a 30-metre penalty from the left, replacement Rob du Preez doing likewise from a 75th-minute penalty as a ruthless home outfit continued to turn the screw.
The Falcons produced a late flurry when Michael Young’s scamper from the 22 handed Joel Matavesi a try on his Premiership debut, Connon converting, but his side shipped the last points of the night when Simon Hammersley scored in the left corner.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Penny (Joel Matavesi, 72), 14 Mateo Carreras (Alex Tait, 66), 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Louis Schreuder (Michael Young, 49); 1 Trevor Davison (Adam Brocklebank, 72), 2 George McGuigan (Jamie Blamire, 53), 3 Logovi’i Mulipola (Mark Tampin, 53), 4 Greg Peterson (Darren Barry, 66), 5 Marco Fuser, 6 Rob Farrar (Connor Collett, 64), 7 John Hardie, 8 Callum Chick (captain).
Scorers – Tries: Joel Matavesi. Conversions: Brett Connon. Penalties: Brett Connon 3.
Sale Sharks: 15 Luke James (Simon Hammersley, 66), 14 Byron McGuigan, 13 Sam James, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 AJ MacGinty (Rob du Preez, 66), 9 Faf de Klerk (captain, Raffi Quirke, 74); 1 Bevan Rodd (Ross Harrison, 49), 2 Curtis Langdon (Akker van der Merwe, 49), 3 Will Griff John, 4 Josh Beaumont (JP du Preez, 75), 5 Lood De Jager, 6 Cobus Wiese, 7 Sam Dugdale (Cameron Nield, 49), 8 Daniel du Preez.
Scorers – Tries: Marland Yarde, Lood de Jager, Simon Hammersley. Conversions: AJ MacGinty, Rob du Preez. Penalties: AJ MacGinty 3, Rob du Preez.
Referee: Andrew Jackson.
De Jager 13
du Preez 79
du Preez 73
James, McGuigan, James, Hill, Yarde, MacGinty, de Klerk, Rodd, Langdon, John, Beaumont, De Jager, Wiese, Dugdale, du Preez
Replacements van der Merwe, Harrison, Oosthuizen, du Preez, Neild, Quirke, du Preez, Hammersley
Penny, Carreras, Orlando, Burrell, Stevenson, Connon, Schreuder, Davison, McGuigan, Mulipola, Peterson, Fuser, Farrar, Hardie, Chick
Replacements Blamire, Brocklebank, Tampin, Barry, Collett, Young, Matavesi, Tait
referee: Andrew Jackson
assistant: John Meredith
assistant: Jamie Leahy
TMO: Trevor Fisher