A closely fought first half was edged by Sale who went in leading 21 – 16. Sale then turned on a strong display in the second half and scored 27 unanswered points.
Sale’s first try was set up by Aaron Reed, who fielded a ball deep in his own half and broke through tackles to set up an attack. He fed Jonny Rawcliffe who ran in to score. Chris Johnson added the extras.
Wharfedale’s restart was collected by Oli Cicognini and two phases later Sale gave away a penalty. Tom Barrett landed the three points.
Both sides had chances in the next 15 minutes to score but it was Sale forwards who set up the next converted try for Tom Ailes.
Wharfedale hit back almost immediately when Oliver Cicognini pounced on a long pass and ran in under the posts. Barrett’s conversion brought the score to 14-10 and minutes later the gap was one point with a Barrett drop goal.
Another break by Reed set up Tom Ailes for a converted Sale try. A Barrett penalty ended the first half scoring.
Wharfedale started the second half with a succession of errors that allowed Johnson to open the second half with a simple penalty. More mistakes followed which gave Sale excellent field position before the forwards drove over, Neil Briggs being given the touch down, for another converted try.
Wharfedale did then have periods in possession but failed to find any real forward momentum. The contrast in styles was now showing with Sale having their forwards running on to the ball against Dale’s forwards taking the ball standing still. Sale were also moving the ball wide as often as they could with strong running from the centres and wings.
Dale just could not break through and Johnson scored next with a 46 metre penalty.
Wharfedale’s restart was run back and 5 phases later Sale were up to Dale’s 22. A sublime Johnson chip was collected by centre Chris Mayor to score under the posts.
The rout finished with Chris Owen finishing off a good handling move. Johnson converted both tries to finish with a perfect record. This again showed the difference between the two sides. Wharfedale had spent 16 phases in the middle of the pitch without making progress. It took Sale 4 phases to score and the try was the result of good handling, direct running and support.
It was hard to leave Heywood Road without a feeling that the gloom surrounding Wharfedale was deepening; without a feeling that we are not going to turn this round; without a feeling of despondency. But there was much to cheer about; there was much to praise; there is much that the team can do to build and grow and develop into a winning team.
The forwards held their own. Not as dominant as in the past few weeks but Sale have a very strong eight. The stats show how well the forwards did in the set piece. Kieran Frost was outstanding and showed that he is now fully worthy of his first team place and it will be hard for players like Jim Mason to get their places back when they return from injury. Richard Rhodes has shown in this match and over the last few weeks that he is fully recovered from the long-term injury and is back to his best. Adam Howard was again a force to be reckoned with. Oliver Cicognini was the pick of the backs, especially when reclaiming kicks ahead.
Wharfedale: – Tom Davidson; Robbie Davidson, Charlie Graham, Joel Gill, Oli Cicognini; Tom Barrett (Jack Johnson 66), Phil Woodhead (c); Joe Altham (Toms Asejevs 22, Dan Stockdale 61), Ian Larkin (Stevie Graham 41), Reece Ward (Toms Asejevs 78), Adam Howard, Richard Rhodes, Kieran Frost, James Tyson (Tom Whyte 19, James Tyson 22), Jack Kitching (Tom Whyte 61)
Scrums: – Wharfedale 9 from 9 (inc 1 pen). Sale 7 from 7 (inc 1 pen).
Line outs: – Wharfedale 12 from 14. Sale 6 from 9 (inc. 1 not straight and 1 free kick against for delaying throw in).