Match Report

Sale Sharks - 10

Newcastle Falcons - 0

Tuesday 27th Sep 2022

Newcastle led 13-7 at half-time and drew first blood, with an all-Cumbrian affair seeing Marcus Tiffen scoring in the right corner in support of a Louie Johnson line-break as the full-back drew the last man and passed.

Josh Thomas added the touchline conversion, Newcastle forced to exert their physicality in defence as big hits from players including Ollie Fletcher, Elliott Obatoyinbo and George Bennett-Teare helped thwart repeated Sale incursions into the home 22.

The home side took their lead into double figures on the half-hour when Thomas slotted a penalty from out in front on the 22, Josh Peters having hit a hard, straightening line in the build-up before Sale infringed at the tackle area.

The visitors got off the mark on 35 minutes when a penetrating run down the left saw an inside pass played to supporting full-back Elliot Gourlay who sped in for the try, fly-half Kieran Wilkinson converting to narrow the gap to three.

Newcastle doubled their advantage with the last play of the half when Thomas bisected the posts with a 40-metre penalty from out in front, giving the Falcons a 13-7 interval lead.

That lasted only three minutes after the resumption, Sale edging ahead by one when a charge-down on a clearance kick enabled prop Joe Jones to score from a close-range pick – Tom Curtis adding the conversion.

The Sharks added a third try less than five minutes later when a kick ahead down the right wing was fielded by the retreating Thomas, but a chaotic goal-line scramble ended with replacement Huw Davies scoring from a metre out.

The Falcons came back into the game and almost had a second try just before the hour mark when Louie Johnson fizzed a pass wide left to Jeremy Civil, only for play to be pulled back for a forward pass.

They did not have long to wait to find the score, however, when former Saracen Elliott Obatoyinbo marked his home debut with a super solo effort, catching a high ball 40 metres out and jinking his way through traffic down the left to dot down.

The missed touchline conversion left the hosts a point behind, but James Blackett put that right just after the hour with a penalty from 25 metres out in front to nudge ahead by two.

The frantic scoring continued as Sale snatched back the lead with 11 minutes to go, the visitors kicking a penalty to the corner and seeing replacement Arron Pope scoring down the left as a driving maul turned into a heap of bodies on the floor.

Curtis converted, but his side were lucky to escape on 72 minutes when Iwan Stephens broke away down the right, only to be felled by a shocking high tackle. The errant Shark saw yellow for their indiscretion, but the resulting lineout to Newcastle failed to provide any points as the visitors snaffled possession and cleared downfield to safety.

Newcastle offered no shortage of late energy, but it was Sale who had the final say with a Tom Curtis penalty at the death.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Louie Johnson, 14 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 13 Zach Kerr (captain), 12 Ewan Greenlaw, 11 Iwan Stephens, 10 Josh Thomas (Jeremy Civil, 52), 9 James Blackett (Ben Douglas, 68); 1 Conrad Cade (Mark Dormer, 61), 2 Ollie Fletcher, 3 Mark Tampin (Conor Kenny, 51), 4 Matthew Dalton, 5 Josh Peters (Will Hopes, 73), 6 Rory Ward, 7 Marcus Tiffen, 8 George Bennett-Teare (George Merrick, 40).

**Scorers -** Tries: Marcus Tiffen, Elliott Obatoyinbo. Conversions: Josh Thomas. Penalties: Josh Thomas 2, James Blackett.

**Sale Sharks:** 15 Elliot Gourlay, 14 Byron McGuigan, 13 Joe Bedlow, 12 Tom Curtis, 11 Sammy Adu (Huw Davies, 40), 10 Kieran Wilkinson, 9 Nye Thomas; 1 Ben Carlile, 2 Ethan Caine, 3 Joe Jones, 4 Dom Barrow (Ben Bamber, 56), 5 Alex Groves, 6 Matt Postlethwaite (Ewan Murphy, 61), 7 Sam Dugdale (captain), 8 Reuban Birch.

**Scorers -** Tries: Elliot Gourlay, Joe Jones, Huw Davies, Arron Pope. Conversions: Kieran Wilkinson, Tom Curtis 2. Penalties: Tom Curtis.

**Referee:** Hamish Smales. **Attendance:** 2,371.