Sale boost play-off hopes as Newcastle restore some pride

Joe Carpenter of Sale Sharks goes over for a try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Newcastle Falcons and Sale Sharks at Kingston Park on April 28, 2024 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
Joe Carpenter got Sale Sharks' second try at Newcastle [Getty Images]

Newcastle: (7) 14

Tries: Pepper, Cardall Cons: Connon (2)

Sale: (14) 35

Tries: B Curry, Carpenter, Cowan-Dickie, Roebuck, R Du Preez Cons: Ford (5)

Newcastle restored some pride after last week’s Bristol hammering but Sale kept up their revived push for the play-offs with a bonus-point win.

The Falcons gave as good as they got for long spells in a tough, injury-strewn forwards battle, and dragged themselves level in the second half after going behind to tries from Ben Curry and Joe Carpenter.

Guy Pepper and Tim Cardall replied from close range, but Sale responded with Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Roebuck and Rob du Preez putting them out of sight.

Newcastle have lost all 16 league games so far this season, while Sale’s third consecutive win moved them to within two points of fourth-placed Bristol ahead of their final games, against Leicester and Saracens.

After leaking 13 tries to go down 85-14 to the Bears a week ago Newcastle consultant director of rugby Steve Diamond had called for the team to hit back, and they certainly made Sale work hard for their victory in front of Kingston Park’s largest crowd for five and a half seasons.

Newcastle enjoyed 60% possession in the first half and hammered away at the Sale line, especially after Sharks prop James Harper was sin-binned for making shoulder contact with Elliott Obatoyinbo’s head.

Sale weathered the storm and when a series of penalties took them up the other end a neat change of direction from Curry in a maul saw the England back rower crash over for the opening try.

When Manu Tuilagi smashed through an attempted Rory Jennings tackle and slipped a pass for Carpenter to add another, Falcons fans were fearing another big defeat.

The team responded and after more concerted pressure on the visitors’ line Pepper forced his way over and Brett Connon’s extras put them within one score.

Early in the second half Newcastle drew level when lock Cardall forced his way over for his first try for the club, and Connon again converted.

That spurred Sale into action and as their maul exerted its influence and Falcons started to run out of steam Cowan-Dickie burst over, and Gus Warr’s sharp dash and pass sent Roebuck in to settle the result.

Sale crowned the win with a showpiece team try, storming forward with a series of slick offloads and dazzling passes before Rob du Preez finished and George Ford made it five conversions from five.

Newcastle consultant director of rugby Steve Diamond told BBC Radio Newcastle:

“We did (get a reaction) for 60 minutes but we ran out of steam a little bit, Sale showed their player class with the bench that came on, and that made a telling difference in the last 15 to 20 minutes of the game.

“It’s the story of the season, but I was more interested in how we would respond to last week. You can put skill into people but you can’t put character, and the character all the squad showed after last week was commendable.

“Similar to the Leicester game, we brought it level and then messed up on a basic, receiving off a kick-off which brought a lot of pressure. We then lost the ball five metres out in a scrum, which is unheard-of these days, and they scored another try.”

Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson told BBC Radio Manchester:

“It’s the first time I’ve won up here with Sale and the first time the club has won (here) in eight years, so it shows what a tough place we have found it to come here and get a performance and a win.

“We got one, just when we needed it as we need all the points we can get. It feels like we showed some really good composure in the final quarter when the scores were tied.

“We needed the contribution from our bench and they did just that. Pressure tells over time and we definitely won the physical battle and the territorial battle in that second half, even against the wind."

Newcastle: Obatoyinbo; Radwan, Moroni, Jennings, Redshaw; Connon, Stuart; Brocklebank, Blamire, Bello, Van der Walt, De Chaves, Cross, Pepper, Chick.

Replacements: Byrne, Dormer, Palframan, Cardall, Lockwood, Elliott, Spencer, Penny

Sale: Carpenter; Roebuck, R du Preez, Tuilagi, Reed; Ford, Quirke; Rodd, Cowan-Dickie, Harper, Wiese, Beaumont, B Curry, Dugdale, JL du Preez

Replacements: Taylor, McIntyre, John, Bamber, Andrews, Warr, James, O'Flaherty

Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe