The five thousand robust fans who came to Barton on Friday evening to watch Sale v Saints, were not only talking about the return of John Mitchell to take up his new role of Director of Rugby, but were debating whether the game was going to take place or not, due to the blanket of pea soup that had encased the ground!
As we took our usual position in the Wellspring Stand we could only just make out the outline of the opposite stand ans the visiting Saints team warming-up, were ghost-like figures in the distance. It was going to be an interesting game in more ways than one, if only we could see what was going on at the other end of pitch.
The game started with both teams using the fog as an ally with lots of high kicks between the two teams. Unfortunately Sale started the game the way they ended the Glaws match the previous weekend.
A few early penalties for each side from Ryan Lamb and Nick Macleod (who replaced the ill Danny Cipriani) kept the score at 3-3.
However, Sale were a try down on 18 minutes, when winger Jamie Elliott found the try line through the fog, the extra points duly converted by Lamb. Five minutes later, and what looked like a runaway tank, came tumbling out of the mist and Soane Tonga'uiha headed for the line.
When we could see some action from the other end of pitch it was the outline of a returning Richie Gray from international duty with Scotland and Andy Powell's attempted drop goal which unfortunately failed.
There were many ironic cheers & plenty of sarcastic comments that included, "keep the ball at the other end so we can't see what's going on" from the restless, disgruntled fans stood frozen in the Wellsprings Stand.
A few minutes before half time, a Sale pass was intercepted by Tom May and he headed towards the line, ignoring the cries from the surrounding fog shouting "you're running the wrong way!".
The only Sale highlight of the 1st half was a thunderous tackle by Sammy T on a Saints player, which must have left him thinking he was in Narnia!
Still, too many penalties were given away at scrums and line-outs from Sale, and everyone was thinking, "here we go again". Half-time and the score was Sale 3 - Saints 27.
With Mitchell's comments earlier in the week of the team "needing to create more pressure" and some players needed tp "to increase their desire", we all hoped that Sale would come out fighting in the second half and fortunately, they did.
Rob Miller scored a great try 4mins after the re-start and this time it was Sale making all the right moves.
A Macleod penalty conversion moved us closer, but old bad habits die hard and more penalties at scrums, stalled Sale's momentum.
During a bit of a lull in play, a few renditions of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" were aired, bringing looks of bemusement from the under 20s. The 30+ somethings amongst us replied to their younger counterparts to "Google it son", or "we'll find it on dvd so you can watch it". You need a sense of irony watching the current Sale side and a bit of Monty Python humour appears to counterpart well.
A penalty for the Sharks broke up the steady influx of subs from both teams.
As the clock neared the full eighty minutes, a lineout on the right hand side resulted in a Sale scrum drive for the line and it was Tommy Taylor who was credited with placing the ball over the line.
Not to miss out on the train coming out of the fog, Cobilas made a run for the line just before the end, but came up short.
The final score was Sharks 16 - Saints 27.
At least we scored all the points in the second half, but the game had gone away at half-time. Sale need to start making Barton a fortress if we are to survive in the Aviva Premiership.
Personally, stability and a fighting spirit are what we need. Maybe we could put it on our Christmas lists!
By Chris Watson - @chrisred7 on Twitter
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