Vick­ers drives Fal­cons nearer that top four

The Rugby Paper - - Aviva Premiership - By COLIN NEWBOULT

AN­OTHER week, an­other poor start and an­other in­cred­i­ble end­ing in­volv­ing the Sharks.

Only this time, it ended in des­o­la­tion for the Sal­ford-based out­fit as Rob Vick­ers’ last minute score saw New­cas­tle emerge vic­to­ri­ous in this top four elim­i­na­tor.

The pre­vi­ous round had seen Steve Di­a­mond’s charges pro­duce a stir­ring re­sponse af­ter go­ing 17-0 down to Wasps, win­ning the game in the fi­nal minute through Mar­land Yarde’s try, but here it was the Fal­cons who pro­vided the late drama.

Sale had over­turned a 25-0 deficit to lead 30-28 but the Ty­nesiders are a re­silient bunch this sea­son and gave the Sharks a taste of their own medicine.

New­cas­tle re-gath­ered them­selves for one last as­sault on the Sharks’ line. Vick­ers even­tu­ally re­warded their pres­sure to leave semi-fi­nal qual­i­fi­ca­tion within their grasp.

“If we beat Le­ices­ter and Wasps it is very much in our hands,” di­rec­tor of rugby Dean Richards said. “Top four would be mas­sive for us.”

New­cas­tle cer­tainly showed their play-off cre­den­tials in the open­ing 27 min­utes, scyth­ing through the Sharks’ por­ous rear­guard with ease, and had the bonus-point se­cured by the half-hour mark.

Sale were ut­terly woeful. Tack­ling ap­peared op­tional, mis­takes were preva­lent and the li­ne­out was ini­tially picked apart by Calum Green.

The re­verse fix­ture saw a mem­o­rable set-piece melt­down by Sharks and the lock who tor­mented them at the AJ Bell Sta­dium started im­pres­sively.

Af­ter Joel Hodg­son had kicked a penalty, Green got in front of the Sale jumpers to set the Ty­nesiders in mo­tion. The Fal­cons went through the phases and good work from Sinoti Sinoti gave the sec­ond row a one-on-one with Paolo Odogwu and he duly fin­ished out wide.

The ex­cel­lent Gary Gra­ham, who car­ried bril­liantly on his re­turn from in­jury, was the next to cross be­fore Si­mon Ham­mer­s­ley handed off Odogwu to score their third.

Di­a­mond’s men were all at sea and, even when Will Welch had been sin-binned for a need­less in­fringe­ment, they con­ceded again. Faf de Klerk’s poor kick was pounced upon by op­po­site num­ber Michael Young and the scrum-half broke away be­fore Scott Law­son bur­rowed over.

Sale were clearly ag­i­tated by their per­for­mance and it started to boil over, but it was what they needed to find some ag­gres­sion in their game. Tries at the end of the first pe­riod from Ben Curry and Mar­land Yarde gave them hope and they took that mo­men­tum into the fi­nal 40 min­utes.

Suc­ces­sive AJ MacGinty three-point­ers re­duced the ar­rears be­fore the James brothers com­bined to send Yarde over for his sec­ond.

The Sharks led for the first time and, af­ter Hodg­son and MacGinty had traded penal­ties, they held it un­til the 79th minute, but New­cas­tle pro­duced one fi­nal at­tack.

They re­mained pa­tient and Vick­ers drove across the line from close range to snatch the vic­tory and end an­other re­mark­able en­counter.

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

Last-gasp he­roes: New­cas­tle cel­e­brate Rob Vick­ers’ try

Come­back: Ben Curry scores for Sale

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.