So Tigers, in 4th place after the weekend’s action, visit Salford on Friday hoping to add to Sale’s woes
as the Manchester based side sit anchored at the foot of the Premiership and thanking Worcester for
their victory over London Irish at least keeping Sale to within a single victory of escaping from the
smell of sulphur seeping from the trap door to the Championship.
The Sale front row struggled against Bath regardless of the combination tried and it was fortunate
that Mr Davey lost interest in Welshman
Eifion Roberts repeatedly failing to bind correctly, while on
the tight head Buckley put himself about in the loose to some effect but his scrummaging remains his
Achilles heel. Ex Wasp; Kiwi Joe Ward, replaced young Tommy Taylor late on so I expect to see the
experienced Ward start against the Tigers and surely Moldovian; Vadim Cobilas will be reinstated to
complete the trio with Roberts who’s clearly in favour having started every match as had Cobilas
before the experiment with Buckley against Bath.
It’d be a brave man who’d back the Sale front row to prevail over the likely Tigers’ front row of
Castrogiovanni, Chuter (if he’s recovered) or Youngs who’s throwing was better on Saturday and his
play in the loose is a thing of rare forward beauty. These will probably be joined by Mulipola who’s
destroying tight heads for fun but I bet he’s having to write out 1000 times: “when I get over the try
line put the ball down”!
The injured Richie Gray was replaced by his compatriot; Fraser McKenzie who, with Kearnan Myall,
did a decent job at the line out and the breakdown. I rather liked the look of Myall when he was at
Leeds and he continues to be a real solid performer and if Gray’s selected then I’d expect Myall to be
Tigers’ regular pairing of Geoff Parling and Graham Kitchener made a mess of the usually
redoubtable Chiefs’ line out so it’ll be interesting to see if Parling can unpick the Sale set piece with
Andy Powell and, later, James Gaskell were also strong at line-out time for Sale and given their work
at the breakdown I wouldn’t be surprised to see them start alongside David Seymour who just
doesn’t know when to give up and together with young James Doyle, who looks a real good prospect
on the blind side, worked himself to a standstill but somehow it didn’t click, there wasn’t cohesion, it
didn’t look like a team effort somehow.
Eternally wounded warrior Julian Salvi put in another fine scavenging show and had a distinct edge
over Scaysbrook until he was forced from the field of battle while Jordan Crane, although wearing the
#6 shirt played at #8 (maybe they didn’t have a shirt in his size, who knows) and is getting rid of his
rustiness which still surfaces in the efficiency of his heavy lifting at the line out but he makes a good
combination with Waldrom who seemed to be auditioning as one of those Duracell rabbits. He was
everywhere. It’s to be hoped that Salvi is recovered for the trip to the north-west but if not maybe
we’ll get a look at Richard Thorpe who, when at London Irish, was denied match time by Steffon
Armitage but when he did get the chance he impressed.
If Tigers are not to boss the tackle area then the Sale trio will need to be as one in their efforts so it’ll
be interesting to see what Steve Diamond achieves in the shortened period between matches.
With Dwayne Peel injured Irishman
Cillian Willis, who’s been signed from Ulster having also spent
time at Connacht and Leinster playing in the old Magners League, got the gig at scrum half and did
not have an entirely fault free afternoon looking a bit out of his depth at times. He was supported by
young Nathan Fowles so I wonder where Will Cliff is? I rather like Cliff and so if he’s not on the
treatment table I can’t imagine why he’s out of the squad.