Newcastle stopped Sale in their tracks and denied them a try in a terrific game last night when Sale went tryless for the first time since 1995 and the start of professional rugby.
Newcastle scored two tries despite having two players rested with yellow cards, though by the end the Sale prop Stuart Turner was shown a red. Newcastle were implacable in defence, made the most of their attacking options and had Matt Burke, who delivered a masterful game at full-back for the Falcons.
Newcastle's director of rugby, John Fletcher, will be glad to see the back of the autumn internationals. With Jamie Noon and Mathew Tait in the centre for England against South Africa today, Toby Flood on the bench and Jonny Wilkinson injured, they are without four of their leading backs. By the time Daniel Larrechea had kicked his second penalty there was every sign that Sale would move the ball wide. Indeed, Larrechea made a marvellous break to set up the position for the goal kick. It sailed over to make it 6-3.
But Sale overlooked Newcastle's potential for a breakout, and Mike McCarthy plunged over for the opening try for Burke to convert. On the half-hour Newcastle added a third Burke penalty. Then with five minutes of the half remaining, with Newcastle deep in Sale territory, Andy Perry was sin-binned for an offence at a ruck. Larrechea banged over a penalty to help reduce arrears to 12-16. A fifth Larrechea penalty opened the second period, though the real moment came when Burke kicked for the corner, the ball was dropped by Oriol Ripol, allowing James Hoyle to snatch the try. Burke converted from touch to make it 15-23.
With the game becoming progressively fiercer, Lee Thomas kicked a penalty only for Burke to counter to hand Newcastle an eight-point cushion. There was no cushion for Turner, who was shown a red card for fighting.
Sale: Penalties Larrechea 5, Thomas. Newcastle: Tries McCarthy, Hoyle; Conversions Burke 2; Penalties Burke 4.
Sale: J Robinson (capt); B Foden, C Mayor (L Thomas, 68), M Taylor, O Ripol (S Hanley, 55); D Larrechea (D Blair, 66), R Wigglesworth; E Roberts (S Turner, 48), S Bruno (A Titterrell, 68), B Evans, S Cox (B Lloyd, 78), D Schofield, N Bonner Evans (M Hills, 62), M Lund, S Chabal.
Newcastle: M Burke (capt); T May, J Hoyle (J Shaw, 64), M Mayerhofler, J Rudd; L Crichton, L Dickson (J Grindal, 64); J McDonnell, M Thompson (A Long, 48), D Wilson, A Perry, J Oakes, G Parling, B Woods, M McCarthy (B Wilson, 59).
Referee: A Small (Bedford).Reuse content