Final Test Thriller Sees Lions/NZ Series Drawn

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NEW ZEALAND 15 – 15 BRITISH & IRISH LIONS 

Saturday morning saw the Third and Final Test match on the British and Irish Lions Tour for 2017 – with a thrilling 15-15 all draw at Eden Park in Auckland. The drawn series was the first to happen on a Lions Tour in 62 years and have the Welsh connection of Warren Gatland and Sam Warburton, as the only Head Coach and Captain pairing to remain undefeated in back to back Lions Tour in their sides 129-year history.  

Following a disastrous opening Test loss in Auckland a fortnight ago, it saw a good response to draw the series level last week, after New Zealander Sonny Bill Williams was sent off and helped the Lions out a bit with the Tourists fending off the hosts to make the series all square going into this series-decider.    

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Jordie Barrett goes over for All Blacks before Half Time – Pic: Sky News

The visitors found themselves deep inside the All Blacks half were pushing for a try with great field position and pinning the Kiwis near their own try line, but when Owen Farrell saw his intended pass out wide intercepted by Beauden Barritt – it saw Jonathan Davies and Liam Williams getting back to keep the hosts out. 

Moments later saw New Zealand breaking the deadlock in the 15th minute of the game when the Barrett brothers linked up to set up a try for Ngani Laumape right in the corner. It came from a Beauden Barrett cross-field kick towards brother Jordie and he was able to palm it backwards towards Laumape and have put the All Blacks in front.  Beauden kicked the extras and put the home side 7-0 ahead with the hosts on top. 

Owen Farrell who wasn’t having one of his best games in the Red shirt of the Lions, then saw the England man slotting a penalty over to make it 7-3 and have the visitors on the board. Farrell then kicked over another penalty after 33 minutes gone for the Lions, before Jordie Barrett strolled over the try-line after some good play by the All Blacks forwards – saw the home side increasing their lead to 12-6 before the half time break.

Elliott Daly then converted on a monster kick for the British and Irish Lions at the start of the second half, with Daly kicking over a 52-metre long penalty and saw the deficit cut to three points at 12-9. That kick seemed to galvanise the fans wearing the Red of the visitors at Eden Park and boost the Lions going forward in the match. 

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Elliott Daly celebrates his huge Penalty Kick to get Lions back in the game – Pic: Sky Sports

New Zealand then found themselves down to 14-men again after Jerome Kaino was adjudged of foul play after catching Lions Alun Wyn Jones in the face with an arm, however, the result was a trip to the sin bin after being shown the yellow card from match referee Poite. Farrell saw his third penalty kick tying the game up at 12-12 with 20 minutes of the game left to play and saw the contest on a knife edge still.

With just over 12 minutes left to play it then saw the home side awarded a penalty following a collapsing scrum involving Kyle Sinckler – and Barritt successfully kicked over for an easy score to make it 15-12 and looked like that could possibly be the winning points. The Lions knew they would have one more chance in the game and when they were awarded a penalty three minutes from time it saw Farrell making it four from four with the boot, as he drew the scores level late on. 

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All Black captain Kieran Read debates with Match Official Roman Poite late on – Pic: SKY NEWS

There was still time though for more drama in this pulsating series- finale, as from the restart New Zealand were awarded a penalty kick and that was subsequently changed after checking with the TMO. All Blacks captain Kieran Read was clearly not happy and insisted that the match official had the rules wrong and tried to correct him, but French official Roman Poite stood by his decision of an ‘accidental offside’ involving the Lions man in the incident and a scrum was awarded instead.   

As the match ticked over the 80-minute mark, it saw the Lions defence being massively tested late on as the home side looked to steal the win at the death and the series too, but credit to the visitors they refused to buckle and saw the game out in the end. It saw honours even on two fronts, firstly the test match that was superb through came to an end and was 15-15 while the series too was tied, as the sides could not be separated over three matches. 

Both captains were left feeling the same after the contest, as the All Black captain Kieran Read was clearly unimpressed with the change of decision late on by the official, as otherwise, it would have been a kickable penalty for the hosts to win the match from. From the British and Irish Lions point of view, it had captain Sam Warburton left speechless and a tinged with disappointment too with a drawn match.

With questions being asked about the long-term future of the British and Irish Lions tours moving forward as Rugby bosses in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres discussing plans, it was also announced that future Lions tour will be shortened from 10 matches to 8 starting from the 2021 tour of South Africa – but the past two tours have shown that these mean a lot to the Southern hemisphere as well as the Northern hemisphere too.


 

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Irish destroy sorry Italians, England edge Wales and France hold off Scots

Round 2 of the RBS Six Nations Tournament saw Ireland getting their title hopes back on track with a demolition job on Italy, while England faced their old foes in Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, and made it two wins out of two with Sunday’s game seeing France welcoming Scotland to the Stade de France for a see-saw battle to round off the weekend.

      italian_rugby_federation_logo-svg   ITALY    10  –  63   IRELAND  irfu-social

 

Both sides came into the the second round of matches on the back of defeats, with the Italians being over powered by Wales while Ireland lost a thriller to Scotland. Italy were hoping to stop a run that had saw the Azzurri losing eight matches in a row in the Six Nations, while Ireland were hoping to get their title bid back up and running again against an Italian side that has been lacking a cutting edge to their play.

Ireland needed to win just to stay in contention for the Six Nations crown, but Joe Schmidt the Irish head coach nor anyone else could have predicted the walkover that was about to ensue at the Stadio Olymplico before everyone’s eyes.

Keith Earls much like he did against Scotland the previous week, it saw him grabbing the visitors opening try in the contest after some good work by Paddy Jackson with the fly-half finding his teammate on the wing to put the Irish ahead.  Italy then got on the board with penalty for 7-3 and that was soon followed by CJ Stander going over in the corner for Ireland and had Paddy Jackson puffing out his cheeks in relief, when the Ulster player converted with what can only be described as an extremely fortunate ‘Banana kick’ that got carried over by a swirling wind. 

Earls then went in for his second try of the match and Ireland’s third of the game, with the Italians powerless to do anything at all to stop the Irish attack and it was becoming far too easy for the away side with 26 minutes gone on the contest. Italy then had some minor joy with a Penalty Try awarded their way minutes later, after the referee deemed the visitors were guilty of collapsing at the scrum. Ireland then picked up their first try scoring bonus point in the Six Nations and also the first by any team in the tournament too, as South African-born CJ Stander powered his way over for a score and made it Ireland 28-10 at the break.

Second half was not so much a wave of Ireland attacks than it was a Tsunami of attacks coming the Irish forwards as they ran in five tries against a side that failed to show anything defensive at all in the half. Stander then completed his hat-trick five minutes into the second half when he burst through the back line to score the fifth try for Ireland and it was getting embarrassingly easy. Ireland then hit the 40 points barrier with Craig Gilroy cutting through the Italians and scored his first of three tries in the half. Gary Ringrose then scored the seventh try for the visitors and was like a hot knife through Italian butter to take the score onto 49-10 with Paddy Jackson adding the extras.

Gilroy then scored two late tries in the game when firstly, Stander kicked clear and saw the Ulster man collecting a favourable bounce his way en-route to going over for his second of the game and then he completed his hat-trick in added time to see Ireland scoring their ninth try in the game, plus matching their previous best and finished with a whopping 63 points.

 

           welsh_rugby_union_logo-svg  WALES     16  –  21        ENGLAND  England_national_rugby_union_team_(emblem).svg.png

In what was clearly the game of weekend at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, it saw Eddie Jones and his England side looking to make it 16 wins on the bounce and they knew coming into the Dragon’s den that they would need to be at their very best to beat a ready and waiting Welsh side who wanted badly to dent the title hopes of their bitter rivals on home turf.  

Wales struck first courtesy of a Leigh Halfpenny kicked penalty at goal, after England were penalised for not rolling away in the tackle. Owen Farrell then soon had the visitors back on level terms with a kick a goal himself and then in the 17th minute of the game it saw Ben Youngs going over near the line, to put England ahead for a 8-3 lead but Farrell missed the conversion. Halfpenny then moved the hosts 8-6 ahead with another penalty from his boot and had Rhys Webb claiming soon after that he scored a try, only for the TMO to disagree with and rule no try.

However Wales did go into the half time break ahead, as Liam Williams found space to run into a gap and dive over for a score to move them 13-8 in front. Second half saw Wales nearly extending their lead when they charged up field with some lovely play and unfortunate for the home side it saw Rhys Webb’s pass to Dan Biggar being too far in front and a deemed a clear forward pass. Both Farrell and Halfpenny kicked points for their respective sides and made it 16-11 in favour to the Welsh with less than 20 minutes of play to go. 

With England a yard away from the Welsh try line, it saw them trying to pass it across and Dan Biggar was switched on enough to intercept a pass and with the English players gaining on him at the halfway line he was forced to kick forward and it needed Elliott Daly to almost make a slide tackle to kick it out of play for the visitors. England was award a penalty when Sampson Lee was deemed to have made a high tackle on Jack Nowell and with Owen Farrell having nerves of steel to kick the penalty over he made it a two-point game with less than ten to go.

With the visitors pushing hard for a score late on, it looked like their hopes had been dashed when England lost possession deep in the Welsh half but when a poor clearance by Jonathan Davies missed touch and found George Ford instead, it saw the England man running the ball back and launching a pass out to the wing for Elliott Daly who managed to get the better of Alex Cuthbert for the game winning try.

In such a close game it was going to come down to a mistake or a piece of genius that would give their side victory and in a way it was both, as the poor clearance combined with Ford’s vision and Daly having the energy to get to the line sealed the victory for England and moves them a step closer to retaining their title so far.

            france_rugby_logo-svg  FRANCE     22 – 16    SCOTLAND  scottish_rugby_logo-svg

 

After their stunning win over Ireland in the opener to their Six Nations campaign the week prior, Scotland was full of confidence heading over the Channel to face France at the Stade de France in Paris with and hopefully end their Paris hoodoo, with the Scots looking for their first win on French soil since 1999.

Camille Lopez put the hosts ahead with a penalty early on before Stuart Hogg went over in the corner for the Scots and put the 5-3 in front. Lopez again kicked the French back in ahead and then minutes later saw Gael Fickou crashing over to make it 11-5 for France before Lopez added the two extras. Scotland suffered a huge blow when Greig Laidlaw suffered an ankle injury in the first half, so kicking duties feel to Finn Russell and he converted on two late penalties before the break to have his side within two points at 13-11.

Scotland then got a lucky bounce i suppose you could say, as Tommy Seymour kicked up field and the bounce from the ball came right back to him and caught out the French defence which then allowed Tim Swinson to go under the posts for a try and see the away side lead 16-13. Confusion then followed for their conversion, when Russell was repeated shouted at to take it quickly and saw the ball falling off the tee and his kick going under the posts in a horribly rushed effort. France looked to have scored a try through Remi Lemerat, as replays suggested that the player got the smallest amount of downward pressure onto the ball and yet the TMO decided differently and ruled a no try.

That no try seemed to spur the French on for the back of the game and two penalties in the last ten minutes gave the home side victory in which you could arguably say was more a case of the Scots throwing it away than France coming back. Both teams now face tricky games in the next round of matches, with Scotland travelling to Wales and France facing Ireland in Dublin.

6 Nations :Scots Stun Ireland, England eek out win & Wales see off Italy

This past weekend saw the start of the 2017 RBS Six Nations Championship kicking off and it did so in unbelievable style, as the opener to the tournament saw Ireland and Scotland playing out a thriller at Murrayfield, while England and France played out a tight contest at Twickenham and then Wales travelled to the Eternal City of Rome to face Italy in the final game of the weekend.

scottish_rugby_logo-svg   Scotland  27  –  22  Ireland  irfu-social

This year’s opening match of the Six Nations saw one of many people’s tips for the title in Ireland, as they made the trip over the Irish Sea to Murrayfield to face a quietly confident Scottish side that was ready to shock people, especially those wearing Green shirts.

Scotland came out on fire initially and had the Irish on the back foot from the get go, so it was no surprise when Stuart Hogg went over near the corner for a opening try of the match to put Scotland 7-0 ahead after eight minutes of play, with Greig Laidlaw adding the conversion for the Scots.

The home side then moved even further ahead after twenty minutes of play, when Scotland attacked down the Irish right and saw Hogg dummy a pass out to the wing and that gave him room to continue his run to the try-line, and put Scotland 14-0 ahead with the extras added.  

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Stuart Hogg celebrates Try to give Scotland the lead: Pic taken: The Mirror 

 

Ireland then went over for a try five minutes later, when the Irish moved the ball out to the left wing and after Tommy Seymour tried to intercept the pass out wide, the ball came nicely to Keith Earls who scored the visitors first try of the tournament to get them back in the game at 14-5 down.

Alex Dunbar then caught out Ireland’s line-out by complete surprise soon after, when Fraser Brown threw a low ball to Dunbar who caught the pass and sneaked in for a score that saw the Irish napping at the back, but saw a stunning story starting to develop for the home side. Ireland’s head coach Joe Schmidt, knew that he had a heck of a job on his hands to get his out of sorts Ireland side back in this game at 21-8 at half time. But after a poor forty-minutes of play, he hope they would back and bounce back they did. 

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Keith Earls goes over for Ireland  Pic taken: Sportinglife.ie

 

The Second half was mostly dominated by the Irish side and saw them starting to make inroads early on against their hosts, when Ian Henderson dived over the line from yard or two out to see Ireland trailing 21-15 with Paddy Jackson then converting the extra points after his penalty in the first half.

Keith Earls thought he was in for his second try of the match close to the hour-mark, but replays shown that Rob Kearney had stepped out of bound hitting the whitewash prior to passing to Earls after a great tackle by Sean Maitland by the touchline. Ireland though didn’t have to wait too long for a score after Ulster’s Paddy Jackson went over for a try and a conversion, as he gave the visitors an unlikely 22-21 points lead with less than twenty minutes to go.

Scotland then moved back in front thanks to the boot of Greig Laidlaw, as the Gloucester man kicked over a penalty with less than eight minutes of the contest remaining to see the Scots 24-22 up. In the dying stages of the game it saw Ireland conceding another penalty and this gave Laidlaw the chance to finish the job off and he duly obliged, as he kicked over the penalty through the posts and started an almighty roar from the Murrayfield masses, as Scotland shocked Ireland with a 27-22 points win.

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Greig Laidlaw arms aloft as Scotland beat Ireland  Pic taken: TheMirror

 

angleterre England 19  –  16  France   france_rugby_logo-svg

England opened up the defence of their Six Nations crown against France, in what is traditionally known as ‘Le Crunch’ when the two sides come up against one another. Eddie Jones men were going in search of a 15th straight win on the bounce as they welcomed ‘Les Bleus’ to Twickenham for the Saturday tea time kick off, but they were off to a shaky start after France led through a Camille Lopez penalty six minutes in, until Owen Farrell then levelled things with a penalty later on.

Johnny May was shown a yellow card for a tackle on Gael Fickou, and that saw England down to 14 men for the next ten minutes of play. Lopez slotted over the resulting penalty for France, before adding another with the kick until Farrell again responded soon after. Elliott Daly’s Thor-like hammer with the boot, saw him making the match all-square three minutes before half time and saw the teams head for the locker room at 9-9.

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Salmani scores for France   Pic Taken: ESPN RUGBY

 

It would be fair to say that it wasn’t the most exciting rugby that Eddie Jones’s men have played during their 14 game winning streak, but they surely couldn’t have played any worse in the second half and would have been happy to go level at the break.

Daly then thought he had put his side in front with a try in the opening six minutes of the second, but his boot has just gone of play before he grounded the ball for the try and so it was waved off. France with an advantage being played in their favour saw them retaking the lead after a Farrell penalty, after a good quick French move saw Loann Gourdon fed the incoming Rabah Slimani who was up in support, and he went over for a try to see ‘Les Bleus’ ahead once more.

England's Owen Farrell celebrates with team mates after the game
England celebrate their 15th straight win  Pic taken: Cyprus Mail

 

England then retook the lead again through their debutante in the ‘Red Rose’ jersey in Worcester Warriors Ben T’eo, as he finished off a nice move that put the hosts 19-16 up and saw Farrell adding the extra two with ten minutes of play left to go. France tried their best to come back at the home side one last time, but England’s defensive unit was solid to snuff out their last chance and have the referee blow his whistle to signify England victorious again and make it 15 wins on the spin for the Six Nations holders.

        italian_rugby_federation_logo-svg    Italy 7 – 33 Wales   welsh_rugby_union_logo-svg

In the Sunday afternoon game, it saw Wales facing Italy in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome and for best part of the first half it saw the Welsh having the better of the play and looked the likeliest side to score first. However Italy on the half-hour broke the deadlock through Edoardo Gori, as the Italians maul moved forward at a speed and carried them over the line and scoring the opening try of the contest.

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Italy celebrate the opening try:   Pic taken: YahooSports

 

Two penalties by Leigh Halfpenny either side of the half put Wales one point behind, before a tackle on Ross Moriarty by Abraham Steyn saw match official JP-Doyle referring it to the video ref to check and the result was a penalty to the visitors and Halfpenny kicked over and handed Wales a 12-7 lead with thirty-minutes of play left.

Wales came close to a try near the hour mark when the forwards broke free of the Italian defence and saw Justin Tipuric finding Captain Alun-Wynn Jones up in support as the Welsh ploughed forwards up to the Italian line. Rhys Webb then darted into a small gap with some Italian defenders hoping to stop the try from happening and after the video ref was brought in for help, it saw the decision being no try with the ball being held up.

Andrea Lovotti was then yellow carded for the home side and gave the numerical advantage in Wales favour and that saw Jonathan Davies sliding over for a try to give his side a score and one that been a long time in coming for in the men in Red.  With the penalty on Lovotti still in progress, it saw Wales making the most of their extra man advantage counting and this time Liam Williams collected a pass by the touchline and saw easily scoring to put Wales 24-7 up, before Halfpenny added two further points to the Welsh total.

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Jonathan Davies scoring for Wales:    Pic taken: Sky Sports

 

George North than completed the scoring in the game with three minute to play, after a long kick was gathered by Sam Davies just outside the Welsh 22-metres line, and after he evaded a couple of tackles he passed it out wide to North who ran over half the length of the pitch to score Wales third try of the match and give the scoreline a more decisive look to it now. Wales claimed victory but claim a try bonus point from the game, as they missed out by not scoring four in the match and that could prove crucial with the new bonus points added to this year’s competition.

Their next game is at home to England on Saturday in the evening kickoff at the Principality Stadium (formerly Millennium Stadium), as it promises to be a huge game between the two arch rivals and could arguably decide where the title go this year already.

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England Storm Back Against Aussies For ‘Perfect’ Year

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England Captain Dylan Hartley lifts the Cook Cup after their 37-21 victory over Australia.  Pic: townsvillebulletin.com.au
angleterre  England    37  –  21    Australia    logo_wallabies-svg

England head coach Eddie Jones was pleased to see his side securing a win over the old-enemy in Australia at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon, as the home side won 37-21 in a come from behind victory to an Aussie side that had England in deep trouble after the opening 20 minutes of the contest. 

A blistering start from the Wallabies saw them putting the hosts under a severe amount of pressure from the opening kick off and had the England defence doing a sterling job to try and keep the Australian forwards from scoring early on. Bernard Foley who single-handily beat England on his own during the World Cup meeting last year between the two sides, saw him this around having a poor game with the boot by his standards and pushed an early penalty wide of the uprights.

The visitors had two tries ruled out for inconclusive evidence for whether the ball was grounded or not over the try-line and saw England let off the hook a couple of times. Those warning signs should have let Eddie Jones men know that their opponents were not going to go away and they continued their push for an early score, having been earlier embarrassed in the Summer on their home turf by England as they were whitewashed 3-0.

Australia finally took a deserved lead when their pack won the ball from an England scrum on the 5-metre line and from there the ball was worked out wide and saw Sefanaia Naivalu running in to score a try and see the Aussies in complete control of the match at the point. Foley then found his kicking boots as he added a conversion to put the visitors 10-0 ahead and silence the 80,000 plus crowd beside those in the Green and Gold.

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England’s Tom Wood tackling Australia’s Michael Hooper   Pic: Metronews.ca(AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

This was without doubt England’s toughest test of the Autumn International games they had played to date, and going behind early on and taking an absolute battering as they were doing, was proving to be a good test of their character and resolve. England for the first twenty minutes never got close to the Australian twenty-two and when they finally shown signs of life it was Owen Farrell who stepped up to kick the home side back in the contest with two penalties and reduce the Aussies lead to a four-point gap at 10-6 just before the half hour mark.

Farrell was then instrumental in helping to put England ahead two minutes later, when a loose ball was kicked forward by the Saracens man and that set Jonathan Joseph away to chase the ball down and go over for a try and hand the home side the lead. From that point on wards it England battling their way back and began to get more than a foothold in the contest. However a couple of late penalties by Bernard Foley saw the Australian’s head into the half time 16-13 in front, but Eddie Jones will have probably settled for that considering that his team was bossed and outplayed in the opening twenty minutes.

Second half saw complete and utter domination by the home side and was given the perfect start too when the try scorer in the first half in Jonathon Joseph, then put in a little kick behind the Australian defence in the corner and saw Marland Yarde scoring a try to retake the lead again for the hosts. Minutes later some brilliant quick thinking by Ben Youngs allowed the England man to take a quick tap and make Nick Phipps look silly, after he dropped the shoulder to go one way with a dummy pass and went in to score a clever try.

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Ben Youngs takes the Plaudits after scoring a Try  Pic: Sky Sports

Owen Farrell then kept the scoreboard ticking along with a couple of penalty kicks, as that put England leading 30-16 ahead at the halfway mark of the second half. Nathan Hughes who was making his full debut for England certainly impressed and saw the Fijian-born number 8 proving to be a thorn in the Aussies side, as he battered his way into the Australian defence time and time again and helped his side in turning the tide of the game in their favour.

The Wallabies then hit back after Israel Folau burst through a gap in the English defence and that got the Australian’s up to the England twenty-two metre line, before Sekope Kepu spotted a hole and dash for it which led to the Prop grabbing a try for the visitors with fifteen-minutes left to play. Foley wasn’t enjoying his afternoon this time at Twickenham and missed another kicking attempt and had him going from hero to zero for the Aussies, after his previous performances against England in recent time.

Ten minutes from time it saw Australia then down to 14-men for the rest of the game, after Dane Haylett-Petty was sin binned for a body check on Mike Brown off the ball and that effectively ended any hopes of Michael Cheika’s side making a comeback. Jonathon Joseph then completed the win for the hosts, when he intercepted a pass by David Pocock in the visitors half and the Bath Centre ran it over the try-line to see England completing a calendar year unbeaten. 

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England’s two-try hero Jonathon Joseph   Pic: Rugbynews24

That win capped off an incredible year for Eddie Jones side, as just this time last year they were down and out under former coach Stuart Lancaster and faced the embarrassed of being the first ever host nation to bow out of their own World Cup tournament. England Captain Dylan Hartley once again lifted the ‘Cook Cup’ for his side, after he had previously led the team to victory down under and did the same again at the home of Rugby. 

Rugby: Sharks Lack Bite In The Wet

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SALE SHARKS   15    NEWCASTLE FALCONS   15

We didn’t lose’ was Sale Sharks supremo Steve Diamond highest assessment of his side 15-15 draw with struggling Newcastle Falcons on Saturday. For the majority of the game it was played inside the Sale half and had the hosts seemingly just having a ‘Plan A’ and was unable to get a foothold in the game.

The hosts took a 2nd minute lead in the game through a Danny Cipriani penalty and it looked like the Sharks were getting into gear already. This was merely a smokescreen for the rest of the contest though, with Newcastle forcing their way into the game and tested the Sale defence in awful wintry conditions.

If the fact the driving Falcons forwards wasn’t enough to contend with, then the pounding rain and swirling wind around the AJ Bell Stadium made it even more difficult for both teams.

For Sale the ball became like the proverbial ‘bar of soap’ and just couldn’t get anything going in attack all. Newcastle then got awarded a Penalty and had Mike Delany despatching the ball through the uprights to level up. Cipriani kicked Sale back in front just past the midway point of the first half and in truth was very much against the run of play.

Sale’s constant game of kicking down field for territory and trying to force a knock-on wasn’t helping their cause and had the locals getting very frustrated by the lack of running the ball by the hosts. When the home side did attempted to run the ball they managed to knock it on more often than not and lost on some opportunities.

Their opponents  deservedly took the lead in the 25th minute of the game, after they claimed a turnover deep inside the Sharks 22  and made Sale pay for sloppy defending and saw Rob Vickers going over with the decision being confirmed by the video referee.  Tom Catterick saw his conversion go wide of the posts for the visitors after a gust of wind blew it off target and it would be problem that Sale would encounter later in the game.

Once again Sale side back in front with two penalties  successfully converted and saw the hosts heading into the half time break 12-8 up and touch fortunate to be in that position. Newcastle came out for the second half exactly like they did in the first putting their hosts under severe pressure from the restart.

Sale were pinned back in their own half and were not allowing to settle and was still sticking with their kicks up the pitch. For what the Sharks lacked in attack threat, they most certainly made up for in defence.

 

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As the Blue shirts swarmed around the Falcons players and didn’t giving them much joy in breaking through. Sale extended their lead in the the 50th minute, with once again Cipriani converting the place kick to give the Sharks a lead of 15-8.

Once more the North East club came banging on the door of the Sharks try line and with the constant wave of attack after attack by Newcastle, it saw them finally get another try through Jon Welsh and with the added points it made it 15-15.

That try ten minutes from time for Newcastle saw the game suddenly move into the realms of tactical play and had neither side wanting to lose the game, with the sides plotting their game play as the minutes ticked down.

Newcastle was awarded a glorious chance to take the lead with a penalty six minutes from time, but Catterick dragged his kick the wrong side of the near post and let Sale off of the hook well and truly.

With a couple of minutes remaining and everyone looking at the time, it saw the Sharks going for it from the line out and they managed to draw a penalty in the dying embers of the contest.

With the final seconds ticking down to zero on the clock, it meant that this was to be the final action of the game and saw Danny Cipriani given the chance to kick Sale to victory.

Everything looked set for a home win as  things seemed to a be in place for the kick. However what no one could accounted for was the wind at that end of the stadium and so when Cipriani kicked the ball towards the middle of the posts, a breeze took it away from goal and swirled away for a miss and saw the game end a draw.

On the whole it was a poor performance by the Sale side and one that Steve Diamond will not be fully happy with, while Newcastle who hadn’t won on the road this season was there for the taking, but Sale missed failed to make the most of it.

Newcastle played a brilliant game and despite them picking up a couple of points, they will be thinking it was a chance missed as they should have won the game with all the possession they had in truth.