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News: A tough day at the AJ Bell - Sale 20 Saints 7

By Dave Jackson
January 12 2015

Sale away always seems a tough match and since moving to the A J Bell stadium one that is more challenging to get to, don’t get me wrong I like the stadium but Stockport was so much easier for those like me that normally travel by train to the away matches, straight off the station past a couple of pubs and you used to be at Edgeley Park. Much as the A J Bell is a much nicer stadium and has grass on the pitch (not always the case in Stockport) it is a bit of a pain to get to (more on this very shortly)




Aviva Premiership Round 13

Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints

Saturday 10th January - AJ Bell Stadium 

KO 2pm


The 4 of us took the train to Manchester and after a couple of pints were in the pre booked taxi heading to the ground. Having been quoted £20 each way for a 5 seater seemed the easiest way to do it. That was until about 1.8 miles from ground on the M60 the traffic stopped. Crawled a little and stopped and so on. I have since seen reports that the traffic problems were due to an ironing board blown onto the motorway – a novel excuse I must say.

So anyway thanks to the traffic issues the first 15-20 minutes of this match report are from Saints live text feed. Penalty Sale 3-0, Penalty Sale 6-0. Finally we made it to the ground along with an awful lot of other late runners (and many more still behind), could see our place in North stand but they would not let us in through the West entrance (seemed a bit pedantic when there had been such hold ups) and took our place on the windy terrace. Sale were playing towards us and seemed to have a strong wind in their favour.

The next ten minutes or so saw constant pressure from Sale with Saints seemingly unable to get out of their own 22. The wind was part of this but Sale were running the ball back well. Finally Sale looked to have scored but George North did very well to get under the ball and hold it up. A series of 5 metre scrums then followed which while not producing a great deal of rugby did allow the rest of the late running crowd to take up position. Saints desperate attemps to try and get the ball and clear it ended with Sam Dickinson giving away a penalty and a yellow card. Seems after last weeks performance Matthew Carley had found the trouser pocket he had left his cards in. There was a inevitable result with Sale eventually going over for a try converted by Danny Cipriani, who it has be said, was having a cracking game. That was the end of the scoring for the first half and despite being 13-0 there was hope, with the wind in the second half along with a half time talk from the coaches, meaning that we might still get something from this match.

The Sale announcer was clearly excited describing it as an ‘Incredible First Half’ – they obviously didn’t expect to be doing so well against the Champions (Now how good does it still feel typing that word in a match report). Second half started and the wind seem to have dropped a little, however we were struggling to get any territory with lineouts being lost and kicks going straight out on the full, The result of this was more Sale pressure and a maul 5 metres out. Some good work from Saints stopped the maul and better still won a penalty at the scrum. Kick to touch, win a lineout, Sale infringe – kick to touch again. Finally Saints seemed to be getting some of the ball and despite the referee missing a high tackle we soon had a penalty given for not rolling away. Up steps Mr Reliable but for once Myler fails to add to his 2,000+ points tally. A shame as getting on the scoreboard at this stage would have shown the match to be turning.

It would however be Sale who would score next, in an almost carbon copy of the first half we lose a lock to the sin bin (Calum Clarke this time) and shortly after they go over for a try. Conversion is again good and we are looking at a 20 point deficit and still only have 14 men. We manage to hold out until the full 15 are restored and again start to hold onto the ball. Despite some promising attacking play Sale held their line really well and were putting some good tackles in, I have not seen the stats but don’t think they missed many all game. Finally we get some reward and Teimana Harrison went over for Saints, conversion was good and it was 20-7.

Substitutions came thick and fast including young Mr Onojaife, great to see him come on, not so great to see his first take of the ball resulting in a Sale penalty for holding on. Saints however still had the upper hand and were pushing hard for a losing bonus point. Sales defence however was again outstanding and the match ended 20-7. I think Steve Diamond must have been controlling the weather as had no sooner the final whistle gone then the strong wind resumed, followed by rain and hail just to complete our day.

So in summary not a great performance by Saints, we seemed a bit below our normal game but Sale had certainly raised their level. We are certainly missing a couple of key players and can only hope that they return soon. But as people say you don’t win anything in January and I would sooner lose a match like that than an important one later in the season. Sale meanwhile I am sure will give a few more teams at the top a run for their money.


On the subject of being top – we are still top of the league until at least February now – will leave you will a topical music quiz question after getting Styx into my last  ‘Sail Away report’

Whose May 1972 album was called ‘Sail Away’ and featured a sung called ‘Lonely at the Top’?

(No prize by the way)


 Jim Says:




Ben Nutley Says


George Pisi Says






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News: A tough day at the AJ Bell - Sale 20 Saints 7 (IP Logged)
12/01/2015 18:41
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Re: News: A tough day at the AJ Bell - Sale 20 Saints 7
tws (IP Logged)
12/01/2015 18:51
Well done Dave. I had the same problem: a couple of miles from the ground with 45 minutes to go and missed the first 20 minutes.
Tricky day for everyone.

Flinstone Saint
Re: News: A tough day at the AJ Bell - Sale 20 Saints 7
Flinstone Saint (IP Logged)
12/01/2015 20:02
I believe motorway hold ups are commonplace sadly. It's a pity cause you missed probably the best attacking chance Saints had until the last 15 minutes of the game.

Thanks for the report Dave. Much appreciated.


Please sponsor me for Saints with Heart []

Re: News: A tough day at the AJ Bell - Sale 20 Saints 7
HRsaints fan (IP Logged)
12/01/2015 22:18
Excellent report Dave. I was looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the game. I think quite a lot of us felt that this was a real potential banana skin of a game and so it proved. Cheers.

Re: News: A tough day at the AJ Bell - Sale 20 Saints 7
Phil. (IP Logged)
12/01/2015 23:19
Thanks, Dave, really appreciated!

A pity the traffic meant no time for "crraaafffftttt!" winking smiley

Any road up, Randy Newman, I do believe in answer to your final line...

Re: News: A tough day at the AJ Bell - Sale 20 Saints 7
ballagher (IP Logged)
12/01/2015 23:37
Phil - if ever I'm on "Who wants to be a millionaire?" will you be one of my phone a friends for the music questions please.

Thanks for the report Dave. I think we should appeal. According to what you saw it was 14-7; we should have had a losing bonus point.

Re: News: A tough day at the AJ Bell - Sale 20 Saints 7
Dave Jackson (IP Logged)
13/01/2015 08:01
Thanks, Dave, really appreciated!
A pity the traffic meant no time for "crraaafffftttt!" winking smiley

Any road up, Randy Newman, I do believe in answer to your final line...

See I just knew Phil would get that one!

Re: News: A tough day at the AJ Bell - Sale 20 Saints 7
LaurieK (IP Logged)
13/01/2015 10:32
Thanks for the report, Dave. When we didn't score those early points and then went down 6-0 the writing seemed on the wall. So much so I left the radio Noddy commentary and found better things to do while following Twitter. We felt sorry for the fans who travelled and spent so much getting there.
But as you say, it doesn't affect anything long term and only Bath got closer to us.
Hopefully we've been keeping our powder dry for Europe. Another performance like that on Sunday will threaten progress. And we are going down. My view is that Saints were experienced and good enough to know where to focus their attention. I expect a step-up all round.

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