Top of the table Sale too hot to handle for Kirkby Lonsdale

Kirkby Lonsdale 5

Sale 22

North One West

KIRKBY Lonsdale forced high-flying and big-spending Sale to pull out all the stops as the Cumbrians put on a determined display.

Kirkby were expecting a quick start from Sale to extinguish any spark of optimism the home side might have Sale did create early chances and with 11 minutes gone Sale hooker Danny Waddy wriggled through from close in to score. The conversion was missed and the visitors led 5-0.

But they were unable to improve on this as Kirkby took the game to them and enjoyed a period of sustained pressure in the visitors 22.

Winger Josh Maddock was desperately unlucky as he was adjudged to have insufficient downward pressure as he grounded the ball over the line in the tackle.

The extent of Kirkby's pressure during this period could be measured by the 13 penalties Sale conceded before referee John Ash lost patience and yellow-carded their number eight Jonathan Keep.

However despite going close, Kirkby were unable to score and at the half time whistle with the home side possibly edging territory and possession the score remained 5-0.

The second half continued in the ding dong fashion of the first with both sides attacking and counter attacking.

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The next score went to the visitors, who put a penalty into touch 10 metres from Kirkby's right corner flag. Catching their throw they were able to drive prop John Blanchard over to score as Sale went 10-0 up.

Kirkby immediately hit back and were unlucky again when number eight Tosh Shepherd got the ball down over the line but was denied the try for an accidental offside.

With the absence of Simon Dowker, Kirkby's specialist lineout jumper, Sale were dominating the lineouts and were able to repeatedly set up good attacking positions.

In the scrum it was a different matter where the technique and strength of the Kirkby prop quartet of the day, Tim Groves, Chris Hewitt, James Law and Ryan Holmes, together with the returning Dan Armistead at hooker, regularly got the better of their larger opponents, taking the only two strikes against the head on the day.

Midway through an evenly-contested second half Sale put together the move of the match. Their number 12 Michael Swetman made good ground running into the Kirkby 22 and offloaded to full back Scott Redfern, who took the ball at full speed and was unstoppable as he scored under the posts, the conversion stretching the Sale lead to 17-0.

It wasn't over though and Kirkby came storming back again.

Kirkby had field position deep in Sale territory and managed to turn them over for possession. Following several attacking phases and close calls hooker Armistead got over in the left corner for an unconverted try to make the score 17-5.

In the closing minutes back came Sale who managed to get a well-organised drive running at the Kirkby line. The Cumbrians did halt it but not to the referee's satisfaction and from the scrum their number eight Keep was able to dive over for an unconverted try which took the final score to 22-5.

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