WITH inspirational director of rugby Scott Lawson away winning his 47th cap for Scotland against Wales in Cardiff, a tough task became even tougher for Tynedale as they crashed to their heaviest defeat of the season against table toppers Sale.

Prior to Saturday, Tynedale had been one of only two teams to defeat the Cheshire side this season, and the league leaders made no secret of the fact they were thirsting for revenge for that low-scoring but gripping 7-5 reversal.

There was never any likelihood of another close encounter, with Sale’s Heywood Road ground a strength sapping morass of thick mud. Conditions were so bad that Sale had to change to their away strips at half time as the players were recognisable even to their own team-mates.

Tynedale’s high stepping strutters were unable to unleash their usual devastating breaks as they were sucked down into the glaur.

While the Tynedale forwards competed well in the rucks and mauls , Sale had the clear edge in the tight which was where the game was won.

Tynedale were struggling with injuries to scrum halves Matty Outson and David Cook and departures for pastures new by the likes of teenage prop Tristan Grant - gone to Italy - and fly half Dan Taylor - gone to struggling Blaydon.

Matty’s younger brother Jack took the number nine shirt, with Ash Smith at fly half, but despite gallant displays in the mud, Tynedale were outgunned for long periods.

Tynedale started brightly, but it was Sale who took the lead with a penalty from fly half Chris Johnson on 13 minutes.

The Cheshire side pinned Tynedale in their own half for the next 10 minutes and were rewarded when scrum half Matt Bradley spotted a gap and darted through for a try which Johnson converted for 10-0.

There was an element of good fortune about Sale’s second try, as an up and under from full back Jonty Rawcliffe landed with a plop in the mud and came to a dead stop. Rawciffe was able to pick up and squirm over for Johnson to make it 17-0

The fly half added another penalty shortly before the break to make the half time score an emphatic 20-0.

Refreshed by the break, Tynedale began the second half trying to play their usual expansive game, moving the ball well, but Sale’s defence held out well.

Tynedale hearts were broken on the hour when Sale replacement Tom Ailes picked up from a scrum, and weaved his way over for the third converted try,

Worse was to come for Tynedale minutes later, when Sale claimed the bonus point via a penalty try following pressure on their line to take the score to 34-0.

With the points safely in the bag, Sale eased off, and Tynedale took advantage with some purposeful passing which brought a try for replacement Jake Rodgers.

And Tynedale managed to get into double figures from the last play of the game, when another substitute, Guy Pike, scored from a quick tap and go.

Despite the defeat, Tynedale stay fifth in the table, and hope to consolidate that tomorrow when South Leicester come to Tynedale Park.

The Midlanders were the first team to beat Tynedale this season back in October, winning 25-17 after Tynedale had won their first seven games of the season. Kick-off is at 2pm