Having been able to catch the abridged highlights of the Sale - Newcastle Kings Of The North game on Friday thanks in no small part to the excellent official Sale Sharks YouTube channel, I thought I'd just chime in with some very, very quick thoughts:
Nick Macleod's kicking - both off the tee and in-play - looks to have become noticeably more assured and confident over the summer following Paul Deacon's arrival. I speculated earlier this year that Deacon's cross-code switch from Wigan could be an astute piece of business that turns former middling squad players into dependable members of a top-flight team and Macleod appears to have been one of the main early beneficiaries.
Josh Beaumont's short-range game is scarily good. Sale's third try on Friday night was born from the fact Beaumont, with little-to-none forward momentum (albeit with some help from Tommy Taylor) was able to fend off three Falcons defenders to power over the line. A truly unbelievable talent.
Fellow Number 8 Vilhami Fihaki also continued an impressive pre-season with a try of his own, following some (and this is where the benefits of having accessible highlights becomes handy) very smart play at the back of a rolling maul that saw Fihaki, realise he wasn't held in the tackle when the maul first splintered, got up unopposed, regathered his position behind Braid and co. and dived over the whitewash. A very encouraging passage of play for a player who, like Macleod could become very important for Sale this year.
Mike Haley and Tom Arscott both put together a nice break or two apiece on Friday. With the forwards-heavy gameplan Sale employ, having players with the ability to (counter)attack with such incisiveness and efficiency makes the team that much more dangerous to compete with. Haley in particular is a player it is encouraging to see regain some of the dangerous form he exhibited early last season. More of the same, please.