SALE Sharks Women’s first outing as a Premier 15s outfit ended in a 29-7 defeat against Loughborough Lightning at Heywood Road.

The contest was back and forth until the closing stages when the visitors pulled clear for victory with the final scoreline not really reflecting the new team's efforts.

Both sides showcased their explosive attributes early on, with a well-worked Sharks move from the line-out seeing Katie Daley- McLean almost find Beth Stafford inside the Loughborough 22 with a cross-field kick, only to be intercepted by Lightning’s Olivia Jones.

Jones’ electric pace proved to be a thorn in Sale’s side early, as she burst through the Sharks defence after being put through by Helena Rowland and went over unchallenged for the first try of the day.

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Rowland added the extras to give the away side a 7-0 lead after 13 minutes.

The Sharks quickly answered back with a well-worked attacking move of their own, as Lauren Delany’s blistering run saw her charge over in the far corner, making history with the first ever try for Sale Sharks Women.

Daley-McLean was successful with the follow-up to draw Sale level, after an all-action opening 18 minutes.

Loughborough restored their lead in the 22nd minute after Rowland’s line break saw her win a penalty and she was good for the three points.

Rowland had the chance to extend the away side’s lead with another penalty two minutes before the break, but her kick steered wide of the sticks and Lightning went into half-time with a three-point lead.

The Sharks marched towards the Loughborough 22 with attacking intent at the beginning of the second half and soon won a penalty.

Daley-McLean opted for the tee and came agonisingly close to drawing Sale level, with her kick bouncing off the outside of the post.

Loughborough pressured the Sale defence in search of their second try of the afternoon in the following 10 minutes, but the Sharks remained resilient during this period.

Momentum began to sway back in Sale’s favour in this back and forth battle as they relentlessly charged towards the Loughborough try-line.

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Daley-McLean almost set Lisa Neumann clear through with grubber kick, but the ball just rolled out of Neumann’s grasp and out of play.

The game was put out of the Sharks' reach in the final five minutes with Lark Davies crashing over from the driving maul.

Rowland missed the extras as the away side led 15-7 with five minutes remaining.

Davies got her second try of the game a couple of minutes later and Rowland was good for the follow-up this time, with the scoreline being unfair to a determined Sale side after another late try sealed the fate of the newly-formed women's team.