Sale open with win over Falcons
September 3, 2010
Sale's Sisa Koyamaibole feeds his fly-half Nick Macleod during the Edgeley Park clash
© Getty Images
Nick Macleod had a productive evening with the boot as Sale Sharks kicked off the new Aviva Premiership season with a 35-18 victory over Newcastle Falcons at Edgeley Park on Friday night.
Brent Wilson notched twice for the visitors but the Sharks managed two tries of their own through Karena Wihongi and Tom Brady, both of which were converted by fly-half Macleod, who also contributed six penalties and a drop goal as the Mike Brewer era began with an encouraging home win.
Both of these sides finished in the bottom four last term but the Sharks suggested they may have the power to do much better this term as the power of their ball-carriers gave them an excellent platform to put tempo into their attacks, while Dwayne Peel and Macleod were excellent at half-back. The same could not be said of their battered visitors.
Sale made a confident start as Ben Cohen caught Macleod's kick-off to set up an attack which yielded a penalty, knocked over by fly-half Macleod with barely a minute on the clock. However, the lead was short-lived as Paul Williams obstructed at the restart and former Munster fly-half Jeremy Manning, who was making his competitive debut for Newcastle, quickly levelled the scores.
Sale looked sharp in attack with props Andrew Sheridan and Wihongi carrying purposefully, and it paid dividends as two penalties in quick succession from Macleod gave the hosts a 9-3 lead in the 12th minute, although referee Dean Richards failed to spot a clear knock-on by Sharks flanker David Seymour in the build-up to the second of those three-pointers.
Manning then hit the post with a penalty attempt of his own but a good chase saw centre Kyle Tonetti bundled back over his own line and, from the resulting scrum, a close-range rumble by the Falcons saw flanker Wilson crash over for a try, which was converted by Manning.
Sale continued to build pressure as they ran through the phases with Peel threatening the fringes and, after Macleod had fallen short with an ambitious long-range penalty, they retook the lead after more fluent attacking play. Young wing Brady made the initial break with Wihongi finishing off by burrowing over. Macleod converted for a 16-10 lead.
And that was soon extended by a lovely score as Tonetti made a half-break and Macleod's well-weighted chip allowed Brady to become the second Sale man to cross the whitewash on debut. Macleod added the extras and a fourth penalty shortly after for a 26-10 lead that fully reflected Sale's dominance.
Manning cut the lead with his second three-pointer just before the interval but the Falcons had plenty to ponder at the break. Newcastle boss Alan Tait sent Jimmy Gopperth on for Manning at the start of the second half with his side in desperate need of some inspiration, but the pattern of the game remained the same as yet more Sale pressure allowed Macleod to add his fifth penalty of the night.
Peel and Macleod then swapped roles as the fly-half set up his number nine for a drop goal as Sale moved further away from their struggling visitors. Ill-discipline continued to cost Newcastle as Macleod made it 35-13 in the 59th minute with another penalty, although Sale then lost replacement scrum-half Chris Leck to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle just seconds after entering the fray. And Newcastle capitalised as, after sustained pressure, Wilson powered over in the corner with eight minutes remaining for a score which was merely a consolation.