Sale's quick return on Kennedy investment

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The Independent Online

Brian Kennedy is not only very rich, and very optimistic, but very probably mad. Why else would he, or anyone else for that matter, want to invest millions in a floundering rugby club like Sale? Most adult men who want some respite from the cares of family are content to buy a train set. Not the 39-year-old Kennedy, who believes Sale is the sleeping giant of English rugby; and wants to turn the club into a wide-awake big hitter.

Changes are certain at the end of a desperately poor campaign, which will see no more than seven or eight of the squad retained, as Kennedy and his director of rugby, Adrian Hadley, embark on a rebuilding programme, as well as a third change of name in as many seasons. But the arrival of Kennedy was the precursor for Sale's most convincing performance for an age, as they ran in six tries against a Newcastle side who were, admittedly, well below full strength.

This was Sale demonstrating the kind of resolution and purpose which has been missing on so many occasions as they have stumbled from one lame performance to another. They got away to a decent enough start, as Barrie-Jon Mather grabbed a brace of tries, while Jim Mallinder claimed the other. Newcastle trailed at the break by 17-10; their contribution being a Gary Armstrong try, plus the conversion and a penalty by Peter Massey.

With the Falcons' lightweight pack badly beaten - twice in their own 22 they conceded the put-in - the speedy Newcastle backs had precious little quality ball to work with. The absence of Jonny Wilkinson did not help as Massey struggled to get his back-line working with the momentum to damage Sale.

Mike Wood, spinning out of Steve Hanley's ineffectual tackle, lifted the visitors with a smart try as the third quarter closed. Massey converted, to bring the score to 23-17, Nicky Little having opened the half by kicking two penalties, to add to a solitary conversion in the first. Once Little had kicked his third penalty, Sale pulled clear with some scintillating running and handling. Kennedy was positively glowing with pride at his new acquisition as Hanley got two tries and Matt Moore the sixth.

Sale: J Mallinder; M Moore, J Baxendell (capt), B-J Mather, S Hanley: N Little, C Turvey; D Bell, S Diamond (J Clark, 65), D Theron (P Winstanley, 61), G Manson-Bishop(M Tinnock, 77), A Whittle, A Sanderson, R Appleyard, P Anglesea.

Newcastle: M Stephenson (T Southall, 74); M Wood, J Noon, T May (H Crane, 49), V Tuigamala; P Massey, G Armstrong (capt, H Charlton, 65); I Peel (M Ward, h-t), M Howe (R Horton, h-t), M Hurter, J Rule, D Weir, S O'Neill (H Vyvyan, h-t), J Cartmell(R Devonshire, 27), R Beattie.

Referee: R Goodliffe (Sheffield).