Posted in match reports

View from the south stand: Sale 7 Glasgow 45

Talk about ‘dead rubbers’. Talk about ‘blooding youngsters’. Talk about ‘protecting senior players’. Talk about ‘concentrating on the league’. Talk about sheer, red-faced, hole-in-the-ground bloody embarrassment.

When Sale played their last game at Heywood Road, back in the dawn of time, (against Wasps, I think), they played so badly that I left early to beat the rush. This was the first game since then that I’ve been tempted to do the same. That I didn’t is solely down to the coach that I arrived on not leaving till 7:45, so I was trapped.

I’m not going to dwell on the details; six tries to one (and it could have been so much worse) at home says everything that needs to be said. When the visiting supporters are avoiding eye contact out of bum-clenching embarrassment, you know that things have not only come off the rails, the rails were never there to start with.

The thing is that, after last week, I expected so much more. Contrary to the scoreline then, the team faced up and it needed two flukey tries to keep La Rochelle in the game at half time. This time, though, 21–0 at half time flattered Sale.

I said after that previous game that if we got a decent performance against Glasgow, I’d be content with the campaign this season. This was not that performance.

I don’t buy the ‘valuable experience’ line: getting absolutely mullered is only valuable when you already have a goodly amount of match time under your belt. Before that, a pasting is as likely to be demoralising as it is to be character-building. This is especially true when it can be claimed (whether fairly or unfairly) that the drubbing was because there were too many inexperienced players in the team. It’s too easy to come to believe that it was your fault, whereas the old hands know that these things happen and have more resilience—a more accurate understanding of their own abilities—and can accept blame and move on.

I hope they do recover, because I thought, overall, that Curtis, Williams and Carpenter stood up well to the challenge. Naive, maybe, but the talent was evident and game time surrounded by wiser heads is what they need, not getting beaten to a pulp in a back alley by a bunch of seasoned internationals with a lifeline to grasp.

Those who know me, or have read these screeds regularly, know that I try always to find a positive spin, to look forward or put context on an immediate disappointment. I’m really struggling to see this as anything other than a hugely retrograde step. If you’re able to view this match with equanimity, well done and can I have some of whatever it is you’re smoking?

However, in a valiant attempt to end this report without leaping off the top of the west stand, I will note two things: if Eddie Jones’s next England squad doesn’t have two flavours of Curry on the menu, then he’s an idiot; and Marland seems to be getting more confident in his knee with each game. Whilst neither he nor Denny got much of a look-in in attack, he didn’t seem to shirk from tackles as much as recently and was laying into rucks on occasions, too. Keep going, Marland; it’s a slow process regaining trust in a damaged knee, but class will tell in the end.

20/01/2020 ETA: He’s an idiot.



Photographer and science geek. Rugby fan (Sale Sharks).