Stourbridge RFC 16 - 39 Sale FC

SALE proved to be party poopers by walloping their hosts in the first game on Stourbridge's artificial AGP pitch.

There was an air of anticipation ahead of the game which marked a new era at Stourton Park following completion of the new £750k playing surface.

Stour have made a flying start to the season with nine bonus point wins from ten games while Sale are one of National League Two (North)'s heavy hitters who are expected to be in the mix for promotion.

The game started well for Stour, debutant full-back Robbie Forbes ran in from 22 metres for a try after collecting a pass from the speedy Dan Rundle after four minutes.

Straight from the restart Sale went on the attack and were unlucky not to score, thwarted by an excellent tackle by Forbes.

The visitor's first try came shortly after, centre Chris Mayor scythed through a stretched defence to score by the posts, fly-half Chris Johnson made no mistake with the conversion.

The hosts took back the lead five minutes later through a Chris Scott penalty.

Sale then started to assert themselves and threw wave after wave of attacks at the Stourbridge line.

Johnson’s kicking meant Stour were constantly on the back foot and some blistering breaks by the impressive Anthony Bingham kept the pressure on.

An offside infringement gave Johnson an easy penalty chance but, unusually, his kick hit the left upright.

However, he made no mistake with his next kick which converted a Tom Ailes try.

Chris Scott land a penalty a few minutes later but this was to be Stour’s only other first half score.

Things got worse for the hosts after a the ball was fumbled on the Stour line before a hapless hack at loose ball rebounded off a defender and a grateful Andrew Hughes collected and touched down, Johnson added an easy extra two points.

Stour mainstay Rod Petty was sin-binned and the half ended with a scoreline of 11- 24 after Johnson slotted home a penalty.

Sale collected their bonus point try nine minutes into the second half after a strong break from Bingham who added another on 62 minutes with a lightening fast dash to the line from inside his own 22.

A further penalty and conversion by Johnson put the game well beyond Stour who looked vulnerable at the lineout and struggled to retain possession.

Stour did finish with a flourish, George Morgan made two good breaks and the ever-reliable Nigel Mukarati crashed over for a try with two minutes to go.

Controversially, Petty took a quick drop goal conversion, which was awarded by one assistant referee but declined by another, and the referee.

Despite the loss Stour stay top of the league but their closest rivals all  won to close the gap to two points.

A international break means there is no game next week for Stourbridge.