Match Report by Matthew Miles
Sale FC were clear favourites going into this match having finished their league campaign as the second best ranked team in the North West.
The visitors were the biggest set of players Manch have faced all season. I don’t know what kind of diet these players are fed on but I've never seen such a massive ‘Sale’ since DFS started flogging sofas!
However, despite this lack of physical parity, Manch got off to a flying start. With barely 5 minutes on the clock, good phase play from the entire home team saw the ball moved out to Conor who finished with aplomb in the corner. 5-0. Game on!
Manchester edged things as far as territory were concerned in the first period but Sale responded with 2 converted tries of their own to take a healthy 5-14 lead. This was a lead that was gained mainly from breaking from loose play and did little to dent Manchester hearts.
Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse late in the first half. With the Academy already missing some of their best players due to injury, they were forced into further changes as both Yoggie and star man Luke were forced off.
Like last week’s match at Sedgley, being handed the number ten ‘jersey’ proved to inspire Noah who clawed the home side back into the game with immediate effect. With Manch creeping into the visitor’s twenty-two, AJ spun the ball out to the stand-in fly half. Despite there appearing to be very little on, Noah powered between two Sale defenders to dab down. 10-14 at the break after a pulsating first half.
With a full contingent of replacements to call upon compared to the home team’s one, the visitors made their squad strength count in the second half. Manch held out for another 10 minutes before the floodgates opened with Sale finishing the match 30 points to the good. 10-40 the final score.
While Sale fully deserved their victory, one can’t help but wonder what may have been had Manchester been able to call upon the likes of Will and Harry as well as not lose Luke before the break. A 30 point gap certainly seemed hard on the home team.
The boys proved that, when it comes to ability, there was little difference between them and the League 1 runners-up. Sale have a very powerful and well organised squad and we wish them well in their semi final. Manch now regroup and look forward to hopefully progressing in the Lancashire Trophy.