Fenby factor adds up for Newcastle

Sale 25 Newcastle 32
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The Independent Online

This match had it all. From a superb Newcastle comeback, a deserved record-breaking moment for Charlie Hodgson as well as whatever rugby union's equivalent is of Roy of the Rovers. Newcastle's recent resurgence looked to be over as Sale raced into a 13-0 lead thanks to a converted Neil Briggs try and two Hodgson penalties but on the day Hodgson became the all-time Premiership top scorer, his 20 points taking him to 1,492 – three ahead of Jonny Wilkinson – his glory was stolen by a 23-year-old part-time player, full-time accountant called Andrew Fenby who scored a crucial second-half score for Newcastle which propelled them to victory.

And he will celebrate their fifth consecutive win by hitting the soft drinks and an early night – he has work this morning. "It is all a bit of a blur now but it is perfect, I couldn't ask for more than that," he said. "I will have to be careful how I celebrate on the bus as I have to be in the office for nine. I'll be auditing and ticking a few invoices through, something like that."

Sale looked like they would rack up an embarrassing scoreline until they stalled and perhaps the Falcons should start 13 points down in every game on this evidence as the early scoreline transformed them. Having risen from their slumber, their pressure finally paid off as Tom May kicked a penalty before Jon Golding smashed over for a try just before the break.

Immediately after half-time, Newcastle again crossed as Danny Williams caught Jamie Noon's pass and sidestepped through Sale's defence to touch down before a further May conversion and Hodgson penalty made it 19-18 and anybody's game.

Fenby then had his moment as he got on the end of a superb overlap to score and May kicked the extras to make it 19-25, Newcastle's comeback looked complete but Hodgson then kicked a fifth penalty, followed up soon after by the crucial sixth – the one that edged him past Wilkinson.

However, in the dying moments Sale's depleted scrum – Andrew Sheridan, Lionel Faure, Sébastien Chabal and Sébastien Bruno were all missing – was overturned and Brent Wilson charged over before May kicked a final conversion to seal a remarkable win.

"It was a tremendous match," Falcons director of rugby Steve Bates said. "Four tries was a fair reflection on our game and it was outstanding. We have tried to restructure our game a little bit – that has taken longer than we planned but some of those things are coming to the fore now."

Sale: Try Briggs; Conversion Hodgson; Penalties Hodgson 6. Newcastle: Tries Golding, Williams, Fenby, Wilson; Conversions May 3 Penalties May 2

Sale: N Macleod (Kuadey, 65); C Bell, M Tait, L Thomas (R Keil, 63), O Ripol; C Hodgson, D Peel (C Leck, 68); E Roberts, M Jones, S Turner (R O'Donnell, 54), D Schofield, S Cox, J White, N Briggs, JM Fernandez Lobbe.

Newcastle: A Tait; D Williams (A Fenby, 47), J Noon, T Tu'ipulotu, T Visser; T May, M Young (H Charlton, 79); J Golding (R Winter, 68), R Vickers (M Thompson, 70), C Hayman, T Swinson (G Parling, 68), M Sorensen, P Dowson, B Wilson, A Balding.

Referee: S Davey.