A BRAVE second-half fightback from Sale FC at high-flying Rosslyn Park was not enough for victory but did earn them two bonus points in their 31-26 defeat in National League One.

The hosts almost took the lead from the start as they collected debutant Emiliano Calle Rivas’ kick off and kicked long, but Paolo Odogwu did well to win a foot race with the pacy winger to earn a 22-metre drop out.

The relief was short-lived, though, as Park moved the ball quickly in their next attack allowing winger Bam Fadahunsi to score in the corner and Greg Lound added the extras.

The blue and whites bounced back almost straight away as, after several phases, Johnny Leota put a cute kick through the defensive line for Odogwu to pick up and score under the posts leaving an easy conversion for Calle Rivas.

Odogwu was denied another potential score when he intercepted a pass near his own try line but, as he turned on the afterburners, the referee pulled play back for an earlier penalty.

The home side then began to dominate proceedings and scored two identical tries as, turning down the opportunity of three points, they kicked to the corner, won the line-outs and forwards Jo Munro and Hugo Ellis powered over from close range to make it 21-7.

Sale’s task was made even harder in the 25th minute when scrum-half Matt Bradley was adjudged to have deliberately knocked the ball on as the red and whites broke again, although footage after the game showed the ball was actually knocked backwards by an attacking player.

From the penalty, Park again opted for touch and scored their bonus-point try in similar fashion to their previous two with Ellis again touching down to make it 28-7 at the interval.

Sale came out for the second half with a new sense of purpose and were quickly on the front foot, forcing errors from the hosts that had not been seen in the first 40 minutes.

With Calle Rivas dictating play, they patiently built an attacking position before Jack Moorhouse spotted a gap in the defensive line to score under the posts which was converted.

The blue and whites were now in the ascendency with another debutant, Ed O’Keeffe, looking lively at full-back.

But, try as they might, they were unable to make any further impact on the scoreboard.

With 10 minutes to go, replacement Kieran Wilkinson offloaded superbly for Matt Postlethwaite to stride away in midfield but the linesman indicated a forward pass and from the scrum, Park were awarded a penalty which Oli Grove converted.

Time was now against Sale but they gave themselves a lifeline with a couple of minutes remaining as the forwards won a line-out and mauled towards the line with Leota hopping over from the base of a ruck to score, Wilkinson hitting the post with an attempted drop-kick conversion.

This, ultimately, was to prove crucial as it allowed time for one further play and as the boys kept the ball alive deep in their own half, Odogwu produced a moment of individual brilliance, slithering through the massed ranks before racing away from the covering defence to score in the corner. 

Wilkinson added a fine conversion before the referee blew the whistle to end proceedings with Sale’s late show earning what could be two crucial bonus points.