Sale Sharks kicked off their pre-season match schedule on Friday night following a gruelling pre-season at their Carrington training base. The Sharks travelled to the Channel Islands for a week-long tour of Jersey where they were hosted by Championship side Jersey Reds.
Although the Sharks’ premiership prowess did pay dividends late in the match, the visitors did not have it all their own way in the first half as the home side were dominant throughout but struggled to break down the renowned Sale defence.
Jersey had plenty of opportunities to open the scoring with kickable penalty chances, but showing great ambition they proceeded to kick to the corner, working Sale with their lineout and maul, coached by former Sharks Rob Webber.
Sale held firm and only when the clock ticked to half an hour did Jersey try a shot at the posts, but it was missed by Brendan Cope.
Ryan Olowofela had a hat-trick of half-chances when on another day he may have broken through, but try as they might the scores did not come for the home side thanks to a resilient Sharks defence.
A scoreless first half usually tells a different story, but both teams were full of attacking and defensive intent, and the scoreline did nothing to reflect on the quality that was on show.
A raft of expected changes by the visitors at the break totally changed the dynamic of the game however, and it was Sale who bossed the second period, utilising the slope and slight breeze by scoring three tries in 11 minutes. A missed two-up tackle in the midfield allowed Sam Hill in for the first, and then after some huge pressure from the Sharks’ pack, Curtis Langdon went over from a maul for number two.
Jersey, to their credit, did not back down and continued to move the ball well, looking to stretch their opponents, but the Sale defence was, as in the first half seemingly impregnable. Sale though are a class act and after multiple phases of play inside the Jersey half, there was no-one left out wide and Tom Roebuck had the easiest of jobs to catch and dot down to effectively seal the win.
JERSEY REDS (15-9, 1-8): Scott Van Breda, Ryan Olowofela, Jordan Holgate, Dan Barnes, Brendan Owen, Brendan Cope, Harry Simmons; James Flynn, Eoghan Clarke, Ciaran Parker, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Alex Humfrey, Lewis Wynne (c), Max Argyle.
Replacements: Harry Doolan, Jack Macfarlane, Huw Owen, Roy Godfrey, Jack Higgins, Max Ayling, Zak Farrance, Wesley White, Tim Grey, James Elliott, James Mitchell, Sam Leeming, Bader Pretorius, Jack Roberts.
SALE SHARKS (15-9, 1-8): Luke James, Arron Reed, Connor Doherty, Rohan Van Rensberg, Denny Solomona, Rob Du Preez, Will Cliff; Ross Harrison, Tommy Taylor, Nick Schonert, Cobus Weise, Matt Postlethwaite, Ben Curry, Sam Dugdale, Jono Ross
Replacements: Curtis Langdon, Bevan Rodd, Callum Ford, James Phillips, Akker Van Der Merwe, Raffi Quirke, Keiran Wilkinson, Sam James, Sam Hill, Tom Roebuck, Joe Carpenter.
REFEREE: Wayne Barnes. Assistants: Simon Adams, Neil Chivers
Half Time: 0-0
Tries: Hill 43, Langdon 45, Roebuck 52
Conversions: Du Preez 44, 53