Rugby Union: Mallinder's final flourish finishes off Newbury

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Sale 38

Newbury 11

Sale were a bundle of inhibitions and anxieties before Jim Mallinder scored the first two of his three tries to put the outcome of this Tetley's Bitter Cup fifth-round tie at Heywood Road beyond doubt.

Perhaps Sale's nervousness was down to the fact that the holders Leicester and 10-time winners Bath had already fallen and it was their turn next. For an hour Newbury showed last year's beaten finalists scant respect and allowed them no time to settle as Sale groped anxiously for the means to break down an impressively resolute Newbury team who worked their socks off.

When they moved the ball wide, Sale met an impenetrable defence. If they kept it close, Sale rarely got the better of the Newbury pack and it was left eventually to the talismanic Mallinder to lead Sale into today's quarter-final draw.

At first Sale appeared to make their intentions clear when Simon Mannix's kick to start the game was gathered in by his forwards. A monster drive upfield, Newbury conceded the penalty, Mannix kicked for the corner and, from the line-out, Paul Smith was driven over for the opening try. It had taken not much more than a minute and was so simple. Too simple, in fact.

If Sale were harbouring the impression that their afternoon would be completed that easily, they were quickly obliged to reassess Newbury's potential for engineering an upset, just as they did when winning at Orrell, of League Two, in the third round. For almost 15 minutes Sale were unable to get their hands on the ball as the Newbury forwards, with Colin Hall and Andy Duke at the heart of their effort, kept them in retreat.

Tim Osman dropped a neat goal on the back of one drive, and hit an upright with a penalty after another. With the Newbury pack still firing on all cylinders, they smashed Sale back over their line, but Craig Davies was adjudged not to have grounded the ball. Newbury deserved better.

Sale then set themselves on grinding out some territory and possession. They captured plenty of the former, but insufficient quick ball to embarrass the Jewson One side, who were as adept at killing possession as they were at winning it. While Sale barely got a sniff of a try, Mannix's two penalties enabled them to turn round 11-3 to the good.

It was not to last long. Seven minutes, in fact, as Tom Holloway skidded into the corner for a try before Morgan Davis tied the scores with a dropped goal.

Mallinder's first two strikes - the second involving two sumptuous dummies - did not kill off Newbury. Tom Beim's try did, only for Mallinder to trump that score with his third, in injury time, with half of Newbury hanging off the full-back. It had been that sort of effort.

Sale: Tries Mallinder 3, Beim, P Smith. Conversions Mannix 2. Penalties Mannix 3.

Newbury: Try Holloway. Dropped goals T Osman, Davies.

Sale: J Mallinder (capt); D Rees, J Baxendell, C Yates, T Beim; S Mannix, R Smith (K Ellis 74); P Smith (M Driver 74), S Diamond (G Dawe, 54), D Bell, C Murphy (D O'Cuinneagain, 54), D Baldwin, D Erskine, D O'Grady, S Raiwalui.

Newbury: R Abernethy; A Turner, R Osman, T Osman, T Holloway; M Davis, B Wakfer ; M Hobley, J Brammer (capt), N Collins, C Hall, A Duke, A Dawling, J Kingdon, C Davies.

Referee: A Goodliffe (Sheffield).