A good start by Ashton was rewarded with a penalty but a poor kick was swept up by the Sale defence who countered with a swift passing move down the left wing which left Ashton trailing by 5 points with the game barely 5 minutes old. This body blow did not affect Ashton's determination and they were soon right into the Sale half pressurizing the Sale pack with an onslaught of effective pick and goes from the base of the scrum. Ashton were also clean in the lineout where Peter Lineham took regular long catches to providing a platform for the Ashton response. The forwards edged Ashton territory and possession in the first half and were unlucky not to score with some hard fought runs from loose head Mike Auden and flanker Rob Morrison. But the Sale defence was well drilled and held the line despite losing a man to the sin bin. Sadly a needless kick in an Ashton attack was charged down and this only served to unleash another breakaway attack from Sale and put Ashton another 7 points adrift. A poor Ashton restart gave Sale possession which used to develop a catch and drive down the left flank bringing the league leaders another 5 points. Despite the breakaways by Sale territory and possession were Ashton's and this told in the last minutes of the first half when Sale had a man sin binned.
At half time another poor drop kick by Ashton landed them in trouble but this time went unpunished and a long probing kick from Sale was scooped up by Ashton's Callum Maudsley who returned the boot ,following up to tackle the Sale fullback 2 yards off the Sale tryline. The Ashton pressure continued and Sale suffered another yellow card. Sale's backs had class but the Ashton defence managed to stop them running rampant but could not prevent yet another Sale breakaway try against the run of territory and possession. In the last period of the game Ashton were firmly encamped in the Sale 22, had a try held up , a Sale player red carded and finally kicked 3 points from a well earned penalty.
Only two league games left now for the 1st XV - away at Warrington on 14th April and then a final home game v Bowdon on 21 April.