SALE FC secured their place in National League One for a second season with a hard-fought 31-22 win against Plymouth Albion at the CorpAcq Stadium last Saturday.

Both teams found difficulty in establishing a rhythm in the opening stages, Sale scoring first on 12 minutes following a break by winger Paolo Odogwu whose powerful run was halted by a high tackle from Plymouth full-back Dan Powell.

The resulting penalty was kicked to the corner by fly-half Emiliano Calle Rivas and from the resulting line-out, Sale drove to the line, Stone Priestley-Nangle scoring the opening try.

Within two minutes, Plymouth's Powell found space to run clear and level the scores.

Sale quickly re-established a slender lead with a Calle Rivas penalty on 15 minutes.

But Plymouth regained the advantage when prop forward James Kenny appeared in the back line and slipped through the Sale defence. The try was converted by fly-half Connor Eastgate.

Having edged ahead, the visitors were unable to retain the lead for long as Odogwu created space for himself to break clear and sprint 70 metres to score under the posts. Calle Rivas added the extra points.

However, a try by Eastgate gave Plymouth the lead at half time.

Calle Rivas' penalty restored Sale's lead which was extended when Robbie Povey scored with a penetrating break from 25 metres.

What might have been a pivotal moment came minutes later when Sale prop Dan Birchall was shown a red card, but the incident seemed to galvanize the home side who defended with tremendous spirit and then broke to within five metres of the Plymouth line.

Sale captain Andy Hughes disrupted the away team’s line-out throw, and hooker Neil Briggs was on hand to scoop up the ball and score, giving Sale’s 14 men an 11-point cushion.

Plymouth substitute Frank Kelly reduced the deficit with a try, but shortly after Will Norton was shown a yellow card for the visitors.

Povey was successful with his penalty kick leaving Plymouth with a nine-point gap to close.

Sale stuck manfully to their task, though, showing tremendous spirit to close out the game and secure a bonus-point win to guarantee League One rugby next season.