Blaydon 24, Sale 36

When every point is precious in a relegation battle but you are up against the league leaders who have only been beaten twice all season it takes a special performance to come as close to winning as Blaydon did at Kingston Park yesterday.
In what was undoubtedly their best display thus far they led their illustrious opponents 24-12 going into the final quarter, having scored 4 tries in the process. Sadly the tremendous effort took its toll and as tiredness set in Sale regrouped to run-in 24 points unanswered in the final 15 minutes.
It all started in the 19th minute when Sale ran back a clearance only to lose possession on half-way allowing the quick-thinking Dan Marshall to pick up and race clear for a tremendous score.
The lead was short lived however with Blaydon attempting to run it from their own 22 only to knock-on and suffering the inevitable from the resulting scrum when Sale No8 Tom Ailes touched down.
Not deterred however Blaydon were soon back on the front foot and when Harry Borthwick was high tackled they kicked to the corner, moved it back and forth, and when Marshall chipped ahead Nathan Bailey was on hand to dive over.
Joe Whyman converted that effort and on 30 minutes James Cooney shot clear from some slick passing and although stopped short was able to reach over for a 3rd try.
Leading 17-5 at the interval Blaydon missed a gilt edged opportunity to go further ahead when a pass went down with the line inches away and it was the visitors who scored next. A quick tap penalty was moved through the hands for John Blanchard to score in the corner and narrow their deficit to just 5 points.
On a day when Blaydon simply never gave up however they hit back again to run in a bonus point try. Deep in their own 22 they secured possession to release Cooney who stormed up to half-way to release Borthwick who raced on unchallenged to touch down under the posts and Whyman add another conversion.
Having seen another team from their home town vanquished on the same pitch less than 24 hours earlier Sale finally got it together and tries from Dan Birchall, Ailes, and Matt Simpson turned it round to deny Blaydon a moment of glory.
John Brennan