This is probably the most difficult report that I have ever had to write as I could not see a lot of the game, the ball or even distinguish the shirts of the players.. I also do not need to go to Specsavers as a number of the crowd shout at the referee from time to time. Even the video could not show large parts of the game as the mist which prevailed at times, meant that we could not see the other side of the pitch. As a correspondent for the game, it is not my responsibility to draw conclusions as to why the game was lost or to cast blame. That role is one between the players and the coaches and there is no doubt that they will in their professional way analyse how a twenty-five point to fourteen lead at half time which after 4 minutes of the second half was extended to a thirty-two point to fourteen was over turned to a thirty-two point to thirty-three-point deficit in just nineteen minutes. It all hinged on an attempted interception pass which was knocked on. Had the player caught the attempt then the crowd would have cheered and with his pace he would have probably scored. As it was the referee had no option with the present laws but to penalise the player and give him a yellow card. Very fine margins. The resultant penalty was kicked to the corner, the lineout won and the resultant maul was a try to Sale and suddenly they were back in the game. Suddenly Taunton from being the offensive team were struggling to gain possession with their fourteen men and from three penalties given away during the next ten minutes two more kicks to the corner, two more catch and drives from the lineout and two more tries for Sale as well as the lead. Taunton never recovered from this situation and had very little possession for the last eighteen minutes and what they did have was sternly repelled by a well organised Sale defence and break outs from that defence for a further two tries.
The second half was nothing like the first half where Taunton had a dominance with Sale giving away penalties for which they were punished. Those penalties were given away by the strength of the Taunton front row and in particular Alex Rodd who really did dominate his opposite prop and win the penalty advantage. This driving and was led by “man of the match” Ben Oliphant-Thompson who frequently at first receiver drove at the opposition laying the ball back for the three quarters to test the Sale opposition. Noah Fenton scored the first try after only three minutes which Frankie Diaz-Dart converted but just five minutes later James Robins the Sale centre made up for missing the tackle on Ben to level the scores. The pack winning the battle of the scrum and winning penalties allowed Frankie to extend that lead by kicking two of them. However, Sale wing Tom Brady showed his ex-premiership credentials with a well taken try and against the run of play Taunton were one-point behind. The next try was for Taunton and showed the real potential of Frankie Dart who used his strength to break the first tackle, his sidestep to evade the next and his pace to score the try from close to the halfway line. With his conversion Taunton were back in the lead. With just three minutes of the half left some fine build up work by the Taunton pack gave the opportunity for Greg Kitson to go in for the try. A lead of Twenty-five-points to fourteen which Taunton had at the break.
After the break Taunton continued as they had left off in the first half and Noah Fenton went in for his second try of the afternoon and the lead was extended. This was the last score for Taunton with that lead very soon being overturned. The Sale pack suddenly came into their own and it was Taunton who were put under pressure and giving away penalties and the game.
We must take it upon ourselves to thank our players and praise them for the effort they put in. We must be confident for them and as such build their confidence. They are good players and work hard and we must work as hard to help and support them. Cinderford next week and it is not that far up the M5.