Sale Sharks squandered a 10-6 half-time lead as they lost out in ‘The Big One’ 22-17 to Newcastle Falcons at St. James’ Park.
Steve Diamond’s side were not at their best, and whilst they do remain sixth in the Gallagher Premiership, they have a number of teams hot on their heels in the race for a Champions Cup spot.
We take a look at who impressed, and who did not, in the defeat to their rivals.
15. Luke James – 6
Kicked relatively well out of hand, but it was a quiet game for James. He was not utilised particular well but did show what he is capable of by beating three defenders.
14. Denny Solomona – 7
Finished off the Sharks’ first try of the game nicely, and always looked threatening with ball in hand. However, he did not see enough ball and struggled to make the devastating impact he is capable of.
13. James O’Connor – 6
Hard to award a rating after coming off early with what looked like a thigh injury, but was enjoying a decent game up until that point. Sale fans will hope that he is back sooner rather than later.
12. Rohan Janse van Rensburg – 6
Did not get into the game as much as Sale would have liked. Got better as the evening went on, carrying powerfully, as the Sharks’ almost launched a late fightback.
11. Byron McGuigan – 6
How different the game might have been had McGuigan’s try just before half-time not been ruled out. Other than that, like most of the Sharks’ backline, the Scottish international had very little to shout about, particularly in the second half. Though he did finish excellently for his try towards the death.
10. Sam James – 6
Showed some nice touches with ball in hand, as he has done a lot since moving to fly-half. But his inexperience in the position was evident with a couple of poor kicks, and Toby Flood evaded him too easily for the Falcons’ try. Although it is hard to be critical of a man playing out of position.
9. Faf de Klerk – 7
A livewire throughout. Used his lovely hands to help create Sale’s early score, and consistently delivered quick ball, as he often does. However, missed five tackles defensively, which lowers his score slightly.
1. Ross Harrison – 6
Made nine tackles and carried the ball five times without making any great difference. But did scrummage well until replaced by Joe Jones.
2. Rob Webber – 7
The hooker enjoyed another good outing around the park, and the set-piece was generally strong, even if a line-out in the first half did go astray. Involved in the game’s most controversial moment, as was allegedly bitten by Calum Green.
3. WillGriff John – 6
The Sharks’ scrum notably weakened when the tight-head came off, showing his importance to the side in that area. However, there were a few sloppy moments with ball in hand from the Welshman, and he also conceded a couple of penalties.
4. Josh Beaumont – 6
Back in the second row after a reshuffle with Tom Curry returning. The Sale academy product put in another solid shift for the Sharks but was too easily stripped by Sinoti Sinoti in the lead up to Newcastle’s try.
5. James Phillips – 6
Worked hard in the loose for the hour that he was on the field, but touched the ball less than any other Sale player and part of a forward pack which was outplayed by their counterparts in the second half.
6. Tom Curry – 6
Did not quite have the impact he would have hoped for on his return from England duty, as Sale’s double Curry threat was sniffed out well. Perhaps harshly penalised in the first half that led to three points for the hosts.
7. Ben Curry – 5
Struggled to make as big a difference at the breakdown as he did during the international period. Conceded four penalties and yellow carded for cynically killing the ball in the second half, as Newcastle won the battle on the floor.
8. Jono Ross – 8
The pick of the Sale players on show. Captain Ross worked tirelessly, carried hard with ball in hand, and finished as the Sharks’ top tackler with 18. Has been a real leader on the pitch this season.
Photo Credit: Sale Sharks