Round 24 West Country Wills Preview: Sale FC vs Taunton Titans

Article published:
April 4, 2024

There remain three rounds of matches in National League One this season. Three chances for Taunton Titans to cling on to their status in the third tier of English rugby. That they have any chance at all owes a lot to a remarkable victory over sixth placed Darlington Mowden Park last time out. Elvis Taione’s last gasp score secured a vital 22-20 win which keeps safety within sight, if not quite touch. Titans remain bottom of the table on 38 points, one point behind Cinderford (who have still to visit Veritas Park) but, crucially seven behind Leicester Lions and eight behind Bishop’s Stortford.


Cinderford fell narrowly to Sedgley Park Tigers last time out, 30-25 in the North West. Bishop’s Stortford did themselves a massive favour, beating rivals Leicester Lions 39-12. At the top end of the table, Chinnor took another 5 point victory, winning 16-41 at Richmond to remain five points ahead of second-placed Rams who enjoyed a 33-25 triumph over Blackheath. Elsewhere, in the second city Plymouth Albion won 3-20 at Birmingham Moseley.


Having spent a lot of the season in the drop zone, Sale FC have given themselves a cushion which, barring a mathematical freak, sees them continue in National One. They lost at Rosslyn Park in Round 23 but will be hosting Titans in the fixture known as Enya (Sale away) in the antepenultimate game of the season.


Sale has triumphed in all five league matches between the two teams so far, though they looked out of the game in December when they trailed by 32-14 in the wintry fog at Veritas Park. They then scored 42 unanswered points in one of the most incredible comebacks imaginable.


Heywood Road has been the home of Sale since 1905 and must be one of the most atmospheric rugby grounds in the country. I remember going there at the turn of the century on Friday nights and there were children craning their necks from trees in the surrounding gardens to get a sight of the likes of Jason Robinson, Charlie Hodgson and Steve Hanley. That Sale squad was packed with leaders with Steve Diamond, Jim Mallinder and current Sharks coach Alex Sanderson going on to prove their coaching pedigree.


Formed in 1861, making it the fifth oldest surviving rugby club, Sale FC is the parent club of the Sale Sharks team in the Premiership but competes as its own distinct amateur entity.

Coached by Director of Rugby Jonathan Keep, a true gentleman of English rugby, Sale finished second to Cheshire rivals Caldy in National League One two years ago and third, yet only one point behind Cambridge, last season. This season has been rather more of a struggle but with players being at the mercy of call-ups to the Sale Sharks squad where they gain valuable top-level experience. Plenty of their squad were involved in Sale Sharks’ Premiership Cup campaign.


Playing in the traditional blue and white shirts, Sale FC boasts several players with Premiership rugby experience, notably veteran centre Fergus Mulchrone, formerly of London Irish, who now runs the Sale Sharks Academy.


If you are unable to travel to Cheshire to support Titans, perhaps you’d come along to Veritas Park to congratulate Taunton Warriors. John Wrelton and Brett Harvey’s men who secured the Counties Tribute Two Somerset title with two games to play. They host Avon in their final league encounter of the season at Veritas Park on Saturday.


Entrance to Sale FC’s Heywood Road ground is off Marsland Road in Sale. A pre-match lunch is available for £25 and features a pork and cider dinner – it’s almost as though they had planned for visitors from the West Country. Pre-booked entrance tickets are £15 for adults and £13 for concessions. Book via this link:

Parking at Heywood Road is limited and visitors are encouraged to use the tram (Brooklands Tram stop is 300 metres from the ground). Kick-off is at 3.00pm.

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Article published by:

Richard Kitzinger


Rugby fan and Taunton resident, Richard loves watching Titans and creates written content for the rugby club.