Sale Sharks 35 Falcons 27

Friday 29 April 2022

It was Sale Sharks who won the battle of the Gallagher Premiership’s two northern clubs on Friday night at the AJ Bell Stadium, battling back from a point down at the interval to take the full five.

Sale trailed 14-15 at half-time and missed the first opportunity for points just two minutes in, spurning a kickable three from in front of the posts and gambling on a line-out which Newcastle defended gamely.

The Falcons responded with gusto, mounting a 60-metre attack through Ben Stevenson and Mateo Carreras which resulted in a sequence of red-zone penalties – George McGuigan eventually scoring from a driving maul in the left corner.

Newcastle’s defensive line-speed kept them in front on 15 minutes when Sale kicked a penalty into the 22 for a line-out without return, but the hosts succeeded with their next attempt when hooker Akker van der Merwe was driven over in the right corner.

Rob du Preez’s touchline conversion put the Sharks two in front, but the Falcons were not lying down, and a jackal penalty from Richard Palframan set the wheels in motion for their second try.

It eventually came through Joel Hodgson in the left corner after a slick transfer through the hands, Newcastle playing advantage from a maul offence in the right corner before working the ball wide through Adam Radwan and Alex Tait.

Hodgson added the conversion from wide out on the left, but Sale led once more thanks to Akker van der Merwe’s second try – the hooker breaking away from the back of a maul 10 metres out to dart into the right corner, Rob du Preez converting.

Newcastle had the last say of the half when Joel Hodgson’s penalty from in front of the posts put them 15-14 up, the visitors being rewarded for their earlier adventure when they chose to take a lineout rather than kicking the ball out with the clock past zero.

The Falcons’ lead lasted just two minutes into the second half, the Sharks awarded a try by the TMO when Ben Curry was ruled to have grounded from close range in support of Rob du Preez’s earlier attempt.

The see-saw scoring pattern continued when the visitors reduced the deficit to a single point, Mateo Carreras scoring in the left corner after simple hands from Luther Burrell, Philip van der Walt and Sean Robinson handed the Argentina wing a one-on-one.

Former Falcon Simon Hammersley was next over the whitewash as Sale chalked up their bonus point, the replacement scoring against his old club in the left corner as Rob du Preez again added the conversion.

The Sharks were reduced to 14 men temporarily when a yellow card was shown to Conner Doherty for a head-on-head tackle on replacement Carl Fearns, Newcastle kicking the penalty to the corner but failing to convert the opportunity into points.

Ewan Ashman’s try for Sale 15 minutes from time was the one which put the game beyond the realistic reach of a Newcastle side who kept fighting til the end, earning the consolation of a bonus point when Matias Orlando scored in the left corner with the final play of the game

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait (Will Haydon-Wood, 68), 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Ben Stevenson (Luther Burrell, 40), 12 Matias Orlando, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti; 1 Trevor Davison (Kyle Cooper, 55, Trevor Davison, 79), 2 George McGuigan (Jamie Blamire, 55), 3 Richard Palframan (Mark Tampin, 52), 4 Philip van der Walt (George Merrick, 65), 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Gary Graham (Carl Fearns, 52), 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Callum Chick.

Scorers - Tries: George McGuigan, Joel Hodgson, Mateo Carreras, Matias Orlando. Conversions: Joel Hodgson 2. Penalties: Joel Hodgson.

Sale Sharks: 15 Luke James, 14 Tom Roebuck (Simon Hammersley, 52), 13 Sam James, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Jack Metcalf, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Faf de Klerk (captain); 1 Bevan Rodd (Simon McIntyre, 47), 2 Akker van der Merwe (Ewan Ashman, 47), 3 Nick Schonert (Joe Jones, 30), 4 Cobus Wiese (Matt Postlethwaite, 58), 5 JP du Preez, 6 Jean-Luc du Preez (Tom Curry, 47), 7 Ben Curry, 8 Daniel du Preez.

Scorers - Tries: Akker van der Merwe 2, Ben Curry, Simon Hammersley, Ewan Ashman. Conversions: Rob du Preez 5.

Referee: Jack Makepeace.

Sale Sharks 35

Tries
van der Merwe 17,36
Curry 42
Hammersley 54
Ashman 67

Conversions
du Preez 18,37,43,55,69

Newcastle Falcons 27

Tries
McGuigan 9
Hodgson 32
Carreras 44
Orlando 80

Conversions
Hodgson 34,81

Penalties
Hodgson 42

Sale Sharks

James, Roebuck, James, Janse van Rensburg, Metcalf, du Preez, de Klerk, Rodd, van der Merwe, Schonert, Wiese, du Preez, du Preez, Curry, du Preez

Replacements Ashman, McIntyre, Jones, Postlethwaite, Curry, Warr, Doherty, Hammersley

Newcastle Falcons

Tait, Radwan, Stevenson, Orlando, Carreras, Hodgson, Nordli-Kelemeti, Davison, McGuigan, Palframan, van der Walt, Robinson, Graham, Welch, Chick

Replacements Blamire, Cooper, Tampin, Merrick, Fearns, Blackett, Haydon-Wood, Burrell

referee: Jack Makepeace

assistant: Alex Thomas

assistant: Gareth Holsgrove

TMO: Hamish Smales

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