Round-Up: Hodgson and Tait primed to return for slipshod Sale

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The Independent Online

Bath expect to have Matt Banahan, David Flatman and David Wilson back to face Gloucester on Friday; two more England players, the fly-half Charlie Hodgson and centre Mathew Tait, are due to return for Sale this week and the one after, respectively. Put together, that was a lot of talent missing from Bath's 31-16 victory over Sale on Saturday and it helped explain why the quality was consistently far from exceptional.

Not that Mike Brewer, the Sale head coach, cut his team any slack. The former All Black back-rower highlighted missed tackles and faulty defence in the backs, which others might have put down partly at least to the unavailability of Hodgson and Tait, and injuries during the first half to two more midfielders, Nick Macleod and Kyle Tonetti. But Brewer slammed a lack of proper technique and mental toughness.

"One of the key things I'm trying to install in this side is attitude and to never give up," Brewer said. While he is working on that, his side are likely to find Bath above them in the table.

The hosts had to wait for their late bonus-point try by Ben Williams, but they picked off their opponents expertly enough for three first-half tries by Duncan Bell, Shontayne Hape and Matt Carraro, before Williams went over in the second-half to seal the win.

Meanwhile, Harlequins earned their first league win of the season by scoring four tries to beat newly-promoted Exeter 40-13 at the The Stoop.

Quins' tries came from Nick Easter, Gonzalo Camacho and Tom Guest, while a penalty try also helped their cause. The hosts were also assisted by the kicking of Nick Evans who posted 20 points, landing four conversions and as many penalties, as his team earned a bonus point in the process. Exeter could only manage a consolation try in the final minute from wing Mark Foster, while indiscipline afflicted the visitors as yellow cards were shown to Aidan Thomas and James Hanks.

In the Magners League, tries from Lee Byrne, Tommy Bowe and Richard Russell helped Ospreys defeat Italian side Aironi 38-6 at the Liberty Stadium, while Connaght and Ulster drew 15-15 in the Irish derby at the Sportsground. Ian Keatley kicked five penalties for Connaght, with Paddy Wallace posting four for Ulster.