Macleod clips Falcons' wings as new-look Sale are off to a flyer

Sale 35 Newcastle 18

The strains of Thin Lizzy and "The Boys Are Back In Town" were in the air as Sale and Newcastle ran out to contest the curtain-raiser to what is now known as the Aviva Premiership in sun-dappled Stockport last night.

David Bowie would have been a more appropriate choice, given the number of ch-ch-ch-ch-changes undertaken by the northern top-flighters since they fought out a basement scrap on the penultimate weekend of last term.

Both clubs sported new coaches, new captains and a host of new players. To the delight of most in the Edgeley Park crowd, it was the Sharks' makeover that drew the first winning blood of the 2010-2011 campaign.

Mike Brewer, the former All Black back-rower now in charge of team affairs at Sale, sat at the back of the main stand watching try-scoring contributions from two of the other new boys in Stockport town – Karena Wihongi, a Kiwi tight-head prop signed from Bourgoin, and Tom Brady, a 19-year-old debutant wing.

For Brewer there was also the satisfaction of seeing Nick Macleod, the Welsh full-back he entrusted with fly-half duties in the absence of the injured Charlie Hodgson, set up both tries and contribute 22 points with the boot.

For Alan Tait, the former Scotland centre appointed as Newcastle's head coach before the final game of last season, there was little more than the pain of what proved to be a pretty comprehensive defeat.

Such has been the scale of change at Sale this summer, they took to the field with just four survivors in their starting XV from the team beaten 32-30 by Newcastle in their final home game of last season: the veteran wing Ben Cohen, hooker Neil Briggs and back-rowers Dave Seymour and Sisa Koyamaibole. They took just two minutes to get points on the board, though, with Macleod landing his first penalty after Newcastle flanker Will Welch had been pinged for failing to roll away in the tackle.

Jeremy Manning, the former Munster No 10, landed an equalising penalty two minutes later, but Macleod banged over two more to wrest the initiative for the home side. But it was the visitors who crossed the whitewash first, on the quarter hour. After Manning had struck the left post with a long-range penalty, Sale failed to scramble the loose ball to safety and flanker Brent Wilson flopped over.

Manning's conversion made it 10-9 to Newcastle but it proved to be a temporary first-half blip for Brewer's men. Ten minutes later Macleod sparked an attack that led to Wihongi burrowing over from close range. Macleod added the extras on that occasion and did so again on the half-hour after directing a chip into the right corner for the flying wing Brady to dot down his debut day.

Trailing 26-13 at the interval, Newcastle summoned Jimmy Gopperth from bench duty as a replacement for Manning. There was to be no turning of the tide, though. Two more Macleod penalties, making it six in all, plus a Dwayne Peel drop goal rendered a second score for Wilson, eight minutes from time, nothing more than a consolation.

Sale: P Williams; T Brady, K Tonetti, A Tuilagi (M James, 75) B Cohen; N Macleod, D Peel (C Leck 63); A Sheridan (A Croall, 55), N Briggs, K Wihongi (J Forster, 55) N Rouse (W Lewaravu, 69), J Gaskell (capt), C Fearns, D Seymour (M Jones, 52), S Koyamaibole (S Cox, 62).

Newcastle: A Tait; G Bobo, L Eves, A Henderson (R Vickerman 55), C Amesbury; J Manning (J Gopperth, h-t), C Pilgrim (M Young 50); J Golding (K Brookes 60 min), R Vickers, T Ryan (G Shiells, 60), J Hudson (capt), T Swinson (F Levi, 66), B Wilson, W Welch (R Pennycock, 50 ), A Hogg..

Referee D Richards (RFU).

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing