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Stalemate in the Salford rain

By Leipziger
November 28 2015

For only the second time in the past two years, the Falcons avoided defeat in a Premiership away game with a 15-15 draw at Sale today.  

A late try from Jon Welsh converted by Tom Catterick leveled the scores and both Catterick and Danny Cipriani missed penalties that could have won the game.


The game kicked off in driving Manchester rain on a bitterly cold day in the North West, and one might not have expected too much running rugby. However, the Falcons played an attacking game in the first half and made a lot of metres, while holding on well to a no-doubt slippery ball.


Poor discipline let us down as Cipriani kicked four penalties to give Sale a 12-8 half-time lead, after the Falcons had led 6-8 thanks to a penalty from Mike Delany and Rob Vickers’ scurrying try. The loss of Delany to injury didn’t disrupt the rhythm in the away backs as JP Socino, Adam Powell and especially Alex Tait made some good running.


Marcus Watson was a little restricted I thought and was not able to find the space he would have liked to in order to show his pace and trickery, but he took some very difficult catches and didn’t really do anything wrong. Probably the same could be said for Giamba Venditti.


The Falcons restricted Sale to only two try-scoring chances that I remember before the break, one a forwards bash that ended with Cipriani scoring a penalty in front of the posts and the other a backs move that ended with a loose pass into touch on the left, though we had cover for the latter.


Something bizarre must have happened at half-time, because the Falcons came out for the second forty like a different team and it wasn’t for the better. The first third quarter was utterly appalling with both teams sending endless kicks to each other’s backs and rarely bothering to put on anything more than a token chase – in many cases that would have been an improvement.


Many will cite the conditions as the reason to keep kicking down the other team’s throat – I say that if you are hoping for a mistake, why not put some pressure on and increase the likelihood of a mistake? Why put the ball into the lottery of a strong wind, when a running game was working?


Oh, it’d be a waste of time anyway. They never seem to learn.


One kick that nearly came off was a chip behind the posts and Michael Young raced towards the ball, only for a defender to tap the ball dead with his hand. Referee Craig Maxwell-Keys checked the TV replay before inexplicably deciding that the knock behind had not been deliberate.


With the score at 15-8 by this point, even a penalty at this point would have reduced our deficit to 15-11 and who knows what happens then?


The game of course plays out differently after that, so it’s all hypothetical.


Whatever, in the final quarter the Falcons found their zip again and put more pressure on Sale with the ball in hand, Mark Wilson and replacement Ally Hogg leading the aggressive go-forward. Roared on by fifty away fans behind the goal, Jon Welsh finally forced his way to the line and touched down for a try that Tom Catterick converted.


The replacement fly-half pulled a penalty to the left of the posts with five minutes, and a draw looked likely until Cipriani lined up a penalty with the clock on zero. The ball again flew wide to bring an end to a game that the Falcons could and perhaps should have won, but for a period of madness in the second half and the concession of too many first-half penalties.


However, two points takes us off bottom after London Irish’s defeat, and today was a massive improvement on the first four Premiership games. Bring on Saracens!

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Stalemate in the Salford rain (IP Logged)
28/11/2015 20:02
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