Clifton Rugby Football Club History
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v Sale 11th February 1974


This is probably the most famous match ever played at Eastfield Road. Clifton were winning after only 1 minute but just lost this cup match.

The Times review of match with the headline “Day when a try would have surprised the scorers” a couple of days later said

Nothing was so appropriate as the composition of the score at Clifton, Bristol, on Saturday. Sale, who have rarely, if ever, played Clifton before, reached the quarter-final round of the national knock-out competition by beating them by two penalty goals (6 points) to one penalty goal (3) , and it would have been a mild surprise if either side had succeeded in scoring a try.

In any case, it was a day for kicking, not handling. The ground was soon ploughed into mud and a stiff breeze blew across the pitch. Passing movements usually died an early death and the wings, scarcely had a look-in. Sale adapted to the mud and wind slightly better than Clifton. But there was precious little else between them.

Barclay gave Clifton the lead in the first minute. But Toone made it 3-3 20 minutes later, the ball veering in on the breeze from right to left at the last moment. The decisive penalty came six minutes before the end. Sale held the ball in the back row at a set scrimmage, Cannon was tempted offside, and Toone never looked like missing.

At one time or another, both sides were down to 14. Rule, the Sale Stand-off half, was off for 10 minutes in the middle of the match having his right knee bandaged. He came back on the left wing and Midgelow moved to stand-off, where his clever kicking made a marked contribution to Sale’s success. Polledri, one of Clifton’s centres, was off for 15 minutes in the second half after being stunned in a tackle.

Sale had a weight advantage in the tight and Stagg was a handful for Brown in the middle of the lineout. Davies and Creed foraged far for Sale in the loose, but Watson and Donovan were not far behind. Both scrum halves could have played better. Smith, of Sale and England failed a fitness test and Morritt stepped in. Both full backs, on the other hand, played well, Barclay in particular. Near the end he stopped Drake with a head-on tackle when a try, for once, seemed possible.

Near the end, too, Rule, hobbled though he was, found a long touch in the right-hand corner with a left foot kick. But Sale, like Clifton, could not get over the line, however near it might be.

CLIFTON : P.Barclay; N.Bourne, P.Jonson, M.Polledri, K.Lowe; S.Gregory, J.Cannon; G.Mansfield, S.Luxmore; J.Raine, P.Donovan, P.Brown, D.Tope, G.Watson, G.Rogers.

SALE : C.Toone; J.Drake, S.Midgelow, W.Isherwood, G.Graham; S.Rule, A.Morritt; A.Newall, J.Lansbury, D.Ward, P.Stagg, R.Trickey, R.Creed, J.Davies, G.Ormond.

Referee: R.Eddy ( Cornwall)

Above programme cover and teamsheet for the match.

Above Clifton scrum-half John Cannon gets the ball away to his three-quarters during the match v Sale.

Above Clifton's Peter Brown under pressure from the Sale forwards during the match v Sale.

Above Sale's giant second row Peter Stagg pounds after Clifton's Mario Polledri, lays into him with a crunching tackle. Polledri goes off injured.