Blast from the Past episode 1
By ChrisC
March 28 2020

Due to the ongoing lack of any Rugby we have taken the opportunity to re-post some of the Mighty ChrisC Previews from years gone by. In this episode 1 we drift back to the Sale v Tigers game from Autumn 2012. Tigers ran out eventual winner 20-8.    
Tigers starting line up was:
Mulipola. Tom Youngs. Castro., Slater. Kitchener. Crane. Thorpe. Waldrom. Ben Youngs. George Ford. Goneva. Allen. Manu., Thompstone & Morris.
on the bench were:
Stankovitch. Chuter. Cole. Andrew. Brett Deacon. Harrison. Flood and Smith.
Barnes was the ref., and 8212 turned up to watch.
This was the season when we were crowned champions after beating 4th placed Saints in the "Hartley Final"
Saints went on to be champions themselves the following year.
So Tigers, in 4th place after the weekend’s action, visit Salford on Friday hoping to add to Sale’s woes
as the Manchester based side sit anchored at the foot of the Premiership and thanking Worcester for
their victory over London Irish at least keeping Sale to within a single victory of escaping from the
smell of sulphur seeping from the trap door to the Championship.
The Sale front row struggled against Bath regardless of the combination tried and it was fortunate
that Mr Davey lost interest in Welshman
Eifion Roberts repeatedly failing to bind correctly, while on
the tight head Buckley put himself about in the loose to some effect but his scrummaging remains his
Achilles heel. Ex Wasp; Kiwi Joe Ward, replaced young Tommy Taylor late on so I expect to see the
experienced Ward start against the Tigers and surely Moldovian; Vadim Cobilas will be reinstated to
complete the trio with Roberts who’s clearly in favour having started every match as had Cobilas
before the experiment with Buckley against Bath.
It’d be a brave man who’d back the Sale front row to prevail over the likely Tigers’ front row of
Castrogiovanni, Chuter (if he’s recovered) or Youngs who’s throwing was better on Saturday and his
play in the loose is a thing of rare forward beauty. These will probably be joined by Mulipola who’s
destroying tight heads for fun but I bet he’s having to write out 1000 times: “when I get over the try
line put the ball down”!
The injured Richie Gray was replaced by his compatriot; Fraser McKenzie who, with Kearnan Myall,
did a decent job at the line out and the breakdown. I rather liked the look of Myall when he was at
Leeds and he continues to be a real solid performer and if Gray’s selected then I’d expect Myall to be
with him.
Tigers’ regular pairing of Geoff Parling and Graham Kitchener made a mess of the usually
redoubtable Chiefs’ line out so it’ll be interesting to see if Parling can unpick the Sale set piece with
such alacrity.
Andy Powell and, later, James Gaskell were also strong at line-out time for Sale and given their work
at the breakdown I wouldn’t be surprised to see them start alongside David Seymour who just
doesn’t know when to give up and together with young James Doyle, who looks a real good prospect
on the blind side, worked himself to a standstill but somehow it didn’t click, there wasn’t cohesion, it
didn’t look like a team effort somehow.
Eternally wounded warrior Julian Salvi put in another fine scavenging show and had a distinct edge
over Scaysbrook until he was forced from the field of battle while Jordan Crane, although wearing the
#6 shirt played at #8 (maybe they didn’t have a shirt in his size, who knows) and is getting rid of his
rustiness which still surfaces in the efficiency of his heavy lifting at the line out but he makes a good
combination with Waldrom who seemed to be auditioning as one of those Duracell rabbits. He was
everywhere. It’s to be hoped that Salvi is recovered for the trip to the north-west but if not maybe
we’ll get a look at Richard Thorpe who, when at London Irish, was denied match time by Steffon
Armitage but when he did get the chance he impressed.
If Tigers are not to boss the tackle area then the Sale trio will need to be as one in their efforts so it’ll
be interesting to see what Steve Diamond achieves in the shortened period between matches.
With Dwayne Peel injured Irishman
Cillian Willis, who’s been signed from Ulster having also spent
time at Connacht and Leinster playing in the old Magners League, got the gig at scrum half and did
not have an entirely fault free afternoon looking a bit out of his depth at times. He was supported by
young Nathan Fowles so I wonder where Will Cliff is? I rather like Cliff and so if he’s not on the
treatment table I can’t imagine why he’s out of the squad.
Willis joined up with Nick MacLeod who took over from Danny Cipriani in the starting line up and had
a similarly unhappy time and it wasn’t until Cipriani came on that Sale looked to have any adventure
about them. True he wasn’t on anybody else’s wavelength and his ambitious moves landed like lead
balloons but he did bring welcome pace and variation to the visitors’ endeavours and it’d be
surprising if he didn’t start against the Tigers.
Sam Harrison had an altogether happier outing against the Chiefs blessed with the luxury of space
and time behind his dominant pack and looking the better for it, there are though much sterner tests
to come and it is a relief to hear that Ben Youngs is likely to play some part up at Salford.
Toby Flood also put the horrors of the Quins match behind him and was good with the boot although
some of his plays looked risky and badly executed he did straighten, asking questions of the
opposition defence. Give a player like Flood time on the ball and there’ll be consequences. I bet he’ll
welcome Youngs back with a bouquet so pleased he’ll be to see him.
We were teased by Richard Cockerill with a vignette from George Ford who gave a thirteen minute
synopsis of his talents – can he really have only had an aggregate of thirty-five minutes of game time
this season? How can Richard Cockerill be so profligate of such a talent?
International centres Kiwi Sam Tuitupou and Samoan Johnny Leota are real pair of bruisers in the
Sharks’ midfield and to describe their approach as direct is to understate their physicality and as they
have thus far started every match this season it’s likely they’ll be thundering over the Mancunian turf
again on Friday evening and if Cipriani can show some of those deft touches of yore and bring them
onto the ball at pace there could be challenges for the Tigers’ defenders.
Whether Manu Tuilagi is fit remains a huge question mark but after a truly memorable performance
from Matt Smith in the Tigers’ 13 shirt it would be harsh on this ultimate club man for him to be
dropped from the starting line up. I am not though a great fan of playing somebody out of position
just to get them on the field, which always seems to me to be an exceptionally poor reason for
selection. If a player is performing well he gets to keep the shirt – simple in my book.
New boy Daniel Bowden got his first start for Tigers against Exeter and I thought he did pretty well,
also benefiting from the extra time awarded the midfield. He’s certainly an accomplished distributor
of the ball but I had hoped to see more of him straightening the line as he did so effectively for
London Irish and that he’d deploy his kicking game which is, after all, currently his USP over Tony
Allen who, Lazarus like, appeared not only on the bench but to replace Bowden when he went off
injured. Allen certainly looked more threatening as he repeatedly went to the advantage line and
crossed it. His flick to Goneva from his own tackle was a lovely piece of skill and led to Tigers’ third
Out wide for Sale down in Bath were the venerable Mark Cueto who had a quiet sort of game seeing
little of the action. Cueto has lost a yard or two of pace but still has all the craft, while Tom Brady
continued to look for action. He was unfortunate in picking up a Yellow Card at the behest of Mr
Davey and had he not made a deviation in his run before felling Skirving in mid air contrition might
have done the trick but it was not to be. Mr Davey was in uncompromising mood
Tigers’ new wingers looked threatening at Welford Road with Goneva displaying great pace and
balance while Thompstone seems to have that special talent for being in the right place at the right
time and he finished all three of his chances with considerable aplomb. So no change there for Friday
Cumbrian try scoring machine Rob Miller is a fixture at full back for Sale but has yet to add to his
reputation by adding to the ten tries he scored in last year’s campaign. He’s a wonderful counter
attack runner but repeatedly found himself wrong footed defensively when Donald and Barkley
pushed through teasing grubber kicks so I’m sure that the Tigers’ backs will try their luck with this
With Geordan Murphy amongst the injured and Scott Hamilton a late withdrawal Niall Morris got his
chance at full back and grabbed it with both hands showing security under the high ball, some strong
counter attacking and a lovely chip and catch. On that showing Tigers may have found another
dynamic Irish full back, now he just needs a chance and should keep the shirt.
The injury ravaged Tigers will be feeling more confident as they travel north-west for Friday’s
encounter while Sale will need to discover their confidence and their coaches need to find a way to
get their players, and there are some talented ones there, to play as a team if they’re to finally get a