DIRECTOR of Rugby Seb Reynolds says Rams must move on quickly after their lead at the top of National One was slashed to a single point following the 35-12 defeat at second-placed Sale.

Despite James McRae’s interception score giving Rams a 7-0 lead, the hosts hit back with skipper Robbie Stapley in the sin-bin to grab a brace of converted tries from Tom Walsh and Ben Bamber.

Trailing 14-7 at the break, Rams had a couple of chances midway through the third quarter – held up over the whitewash and a forward pass near the line ending another attack – before Walsh scooped up a loose ball to set the field position for Josh Brown to cross at the back of a maul.

Nev Edwards’ interception try made it 28-7, and while Ellis Jones gave the visitors a glimmer of hope, another midfield steal from James Robins saw him coast over for a final score which was somewhat harsh on Rams.

Reynolds reflected: “It was another good game of rugby. It started cagey and error-strewn, and then went in little waves of momentum – we had it at first, then they wrestled it back and took the lead before it maybe came down to a couple of swing moments.

“(In the second half) we’re camped on their line, looking at a score and then the maul is brought down, there’s a goal-line drop-out and they go down the other end and score.

“Then we’re on the front foot again and they get the interception (for 28-7) – these things happen and Sale deserved the win, although the final score probably doesn’t reflect just how competitive the game was.”

A feature of the game was the hosts’ suffocating defence, which stopped Rams’ trademark continuity game and forced errors including the two key interception tries.

The DoR continued: “Their defence in the 9-10 channel was very good, although I thought it was there for us to score and it would come – in the last 15 minutes we looked dangerous.

“We struggled to hold our depth to access the width, and that gave them the opportunity when we had to force the pass to get an interception.

“We did have chances, but we weren’t quite able to take them and that stopped us really being in the contest – the good news is we’re creating them.

“It’s stuff to work on, but that’s what we’re always looking to do – we’ll go away having been beaten by a side with several professional rugby players, and we’ll look to improve.”

Even in defeat there was one particularly eye-catching individual performance from the visitors, full-back Henry Bird ruling the airwaves under a barrage of high kicks while also looking lively in attack and rock solid in defence.

Plenty of Sale supporters complimented the Birdman’s display, and Reynolds said: “Henry is getting better and better – as he’s got older he’s learnt how to bring others into the game off the back of his runs whereas perhaps previously he would look to try and finish off those scores.

“He was arguably man-of-the-match across both sides, he was probably the stand-out player on the pitch and fair play to him for a fantastic performance.”

Other stars of the show were the 100-strong Rams supporters who made the three-and-a-half hour journey to Heywood Road, with the DoR praising them as he concluded: “I can’t thank everyone who came to support enough, we’re sorry we couldn’t get the result for you.

“It means it’s now a three-way fight for top spot (Rams on 104 points from 24 games, Sale 103 from 24 and Cambridge 99 from 23) and we’ve got our final home game in two weeks against Cinderford – we’d love to see as many of you as possible at Old Bath Road.”

 “It’s been a fantastic season so far and there are still so many stories still to be played out with two games to go, so we’ve got to move on quickly.”