Albion narrowly miss out on the road to Sale FC
Travelling to Sale FC was always going to be a challenge for Albion at the weekend, as they knew that Sale FC were going to bring the game to Albion in a bid to secure National League 1 rugby for the 2019/2020 season.
Hallett commented before the game, saying; “They [Sale FC] are in a great run of form recently, but they haven’t quite pulled away yet, so we are under no illusion, they will want the win.”
Unfortunately, on the day this was proved to be exactly the case, with both teams showing a nervousness in the opening minutes. It was Sale how would break deadlock first, scoring on 12 minutes following a break by winger Paolo Odogwu, whose powerful run was halted by a high tackle by Albion.
The resulting penalty was kicked into touch, close to the corner, by fly half Emiliano Calle Rivas. From their lineout, Sale drove to the line, Stone Priestley–Nangle scoring Sale’s opening try.
However, within just a couple of minutes, Albion’s Dan Powell, found space to run clear and level the scores, but only a couple of minutes later, Sale quickly re-established their lead with a penalty on 15 minutes.
With both team battling for the win, Sale & Albion were cancelling each other out. It was Albion who broke the deadlock first, when a sustained attack by Albion, culminated in the James Kenny appearing in the back line and finding a large enough gap in the Sale defence to slip through and score. The try was converted by Connor Eastgate.
Albion now having edged ahead of Sale were not able to hold on for long though when the Sale winger created space for himself to break clear. The ensuing sprint of 70 metres led to the Sale winger placing the ball between the posts. Duly converted to add the extra points.
Right on the stroke of half time Albion were able to regain the lead with a try by Josh Skelcey, giving Albion a narrow lead 17 points to 15 lead going into the break.
Shortly after half time a Sale penalty restored the home sides lead, which was extended when Sale scored another try with a break from 25 metres.
It looked like there could have been an opportunity for Albion, when minutes later, the Sale prop was shown a red card having been adjudged to have stamped on an opponent. But it wasn’t to be, Sale defended with tremendous spirit, then suddenly broke to within 5 metres of the Albion line.
The line out from Albion was then disrupted by Sale, then Sale’s hooker scooped up the ball and scored, giving Sale’s 14 men an 11-point cushion. But the game wasn’t over for Albion, as substitute Frank Kelly reduced the deficit with a try after some slick handling by Albion. As the match entered the closing 10 minutes, the team numbers were levelled when substitute Will Norton was shown a yellow card.
Minutes before the end of the game, Sale were awarded another penalty, this was successfully converted to leave Albion with a 9-point gap to close in the closing minutes, but
Sale stuck to their task, closing out the game to Albion and securing a bonus point win to guarantee League One rugby next season.
Final score: Sale FC 31 – Plymouth Albion 22