Match report: Sale Sharks 27-19 Newcastle Falcons

Monday 26 December 2011 – 2.30pm

Edgeley Park, Stockport

Aviva Premiership #11

It was balmy, is what it was when two coaches (three, if you include that carrying the team) left KP at 9am on Boxing Day. My one trip of the season with the Supporters’ Club, fortunately this time it was a little less snowy than when we went to Galashiels a year previously.

Leaving Edgeley Park at 5.30pm, getting out of the town that inspired Rihanna’s song about finding love in a hopeless place (possibly), I had a feeling of despair. Those sitting around me on the coach realised what poor company I am after a defeat.

I imagine Alan Tait felt the same. Despite Sale’s lofty league position (this win put them third), we could easily have beaten them. But we didn’t and missed a chance to put pressure on Worcester ahead of their hosting of Leicester.

The Falcons had a lot of possession but conceded two tries, the first being very similar to James Simpson-Daniel’s against us earlier in the month. Did nobody realise after that, if they hadn’t already, what happens if you leave an opposition runner a massive gap in the defence?

The second came when we sloppily lost possession at a wheeling scrum in the Sale half and they broke upfield, and once Mark Cueto got the ball and was clear Luke Eves was never going to catch him.

Mind even at 24-16, as the score was at that point, there was a general feeling among the away fans that we could still win. Jimmy Gopperth got us back within five points but Sale went back out of bonus point range seconds later.

It was a day of poor decisions, from kicking into the try area and not chasing, allowing Sale to gather with a foot dead so as to get possession in our half, to bizarre replacements.

If James Hudson and Jordi Pasqualin were injured then fair enough, but why take off our captain with eight minutes to go when he was having a good game, as was Jordi? Surely leadership was what was needed at that point?

That said, it is the players who waste possession and make mistakes. We are conceding so much off first-phase ball and that needs to be stopped.

If I were Alan Tait post-match, I’d have simply said “If you want to play in the Championship next season, and half of you want to risk your jobs because we won’t be able to afford you if we don’t come straight back up, then please, play like that again.”

We needed three wins from this block of league games, though eight points would not be a catastrophic return. Northampton and Exeter are beatable.

We no longer have any choice. Talk of good performances, things coming together or whatever no longer matters because it is only points that will keep us in this league. We need two wins in the next two games.

If we don’t get them, then I would hope that Semore Kurdi will do what he should have done after the Worcester game – get in touch with John Wells and Shaun Edwards.

Sale tries: Brady, Cueto. Conversion: Macleod. Penalties: Macleod 5.

Newcastle try: Manning. Conversion: Gopperth. Penalties: Gopperth 4.

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