Rams RFC HEAD coach Seb Reynolds believes there was a significant step up in the quality of his side’s performance despite Rams falling to a 29-17 National One reverse at Sale.
It was a third consecutive defeat for the visitors, the first time it has happened since January, 2017.
Despite the loss, Rams showed tremendous spirit against a Dogs outfit who themselves put on a best display of the season.
In a game of brutal physicality reminiscent of the top-versus-second encounter back in April, Tom Curtis gave the hosts the lead with a penalty before Max Hayman rode over at the back of a maul to nudge Rams in front.
With Fraser Honey adding the extras it was 7-3, but Sale rallied and put their opponents under intense pressure in the 10 minutes leading up to half-time.
Rams did brilliantly to diffuse the situation but made an error in booting the ball off when they believed time was dead, Sale capitalising with a five-metre line out followed by phase after phase and Cal Ford barging over.
Dan Swain was perhaps unfortunate to see red for a high tackle on 47 minutes and Sale skipper Andrew Hughes then found a gap in the defence for his side’s second try.
Curtis made it 15-7, but Hayman again benefitted from the set-piece with Honey on target before the fly-half landed a penalty.
Yet Sale responded swiftly, Josh Brown over from their maul before a slick backs move ended with Connor Doherty grabbing a fourth try for the hosts, Curtis converting both to send Rams home with nothing.
“We wanted to come here and win, it wasn’t to be, but what we needed to see in terms of performance,” said Reynolds.
“We saw it, the physicality and commitment we brought was what’s been missing the past two games and that’s the big positive.
“I can’t fault the players for the effort, enthusiasm, and energy they put in, what they brought was outstanding and I’m very happy with that.
“Despite the red card we were still looking to win the game with five or six minutes to go and we were just hoping to have that moment to take you across the line, which I thought we might do.”
He continued: “You’re always going to go through spells with a bit of pain – if it was plain sailing and an easy league then it wouldn’t be worth it – and this is tough, attritional stuff.
“I don’t think we deserved to concede four tries, but you get the exponential effect of the red card which in the end paid dividends for them in the final five minutes.
“I’m chuffed for our lads with what they brought and there’s stuff we can work on to take the side forwards – I thought Charlie (Robson) coming in, George (Makepeace-Cubitt), they’re young players and I saw something there which is a big positive.
“They looked dangerous throughout along with Mike Hoyt, who was unfortunate having to come off after the red card, but he had a very good 50 minutes.”
“When the incident happened, we actually stepped up and got a burst of energy, and the experienced players coming off the bench were excellent.
“We gained scrum dominance, but I thought the young props (Paddy Harris and Paul Englezos) who started were also excellent. They can also learn from what Ant (Marris) and James (Baker) did with the way they gave us further go forward and they’ll keep on developing.”
Rams are back at Old Bath Road this coming Saturday as old rivals Cinderford are in town (3pm).
By Richard Ashton