National League Two North: Sale FC 59 Otley 5

THE score does not reflect the effort that the visitors put in against National League Two North promotion contenders Sale FC.

Otley had a lot of possession during the match, but Sale's defence was solid throughout.

The hosts kicked off knowing that they had to win if they wanted to maintain their bid for National League One rugby, and went ahead after two minutes.

Otley were penalised on the halfway line for holding on, and former Huddersfield fly half Chris Johnson stepped up with a long-range kick.

The hosts kept up the pressure and put a penalty into the right-hand corner, and went forward from the line-out, with the referee awarding them a penalty try, ruling that Otley had pulled the maul down and sin-binning a visiting player.

For the next ten minutes while down to 14, Otley tried to redress the balance but were met with a 'brick wall'.

They did reach Sale's try line but couldn't force themselves over, and Sale regained the ball to kick long and relieve the pressure.

The visitors then spent most of the time near the halfway line, trying to find a way through without success.

Sale extended their lead with two tries, with Andre Hughes touching down before left winger Sam Stelmaszek juggled the ball in Otley's 22 before going over the line, with Johnson converting both.

Otley continued to look for a way through, and found it when Freddie Watson put Paul Petchey into a gap, with the winger side-stepping the defence to score.

The hosts scored another two converted tries before half-time, from Jack Lawrence and Mark Lawrence, to make the score interval 38-5.

Both sides came out with renewed energy, and it was Otley who nearly scored next.

Petchey set up the attack, which led to Oli Goss putting a grubber kick into the left-hand corner.

However, Otley were unable to ground the ball and the chance went begging.

But Sale finished on top, with Gareth Rawlings going over in the corner from a catch and drive in the 64th minute, and with seven minutes remaining, the hosts were awarded a second penalty try.

The scrums had been pretty evenly matched, but the referee adjudged that Otley collapsed it just short of their line.

The last try came in the final minute when Johnson scored following a good backline switch, adding the icing with his sixth conversion out of six.