If Leeds Carnegie do pull off a relegation escape that would be worthy of commendation from Lazarus himself, they may look to this one game, and perhaps to just one moment within it, as the game where their fortunes changed.
Ceiron Thomas may well have kicked 14 points to help Leeds to within a point of Worcester at the basement of the Guinness Premiership but his prowess with the boot was overshadowed by his first-half try-saving tackle that will go down as one of the best seen for a long, long time.
He kicked an early drop-goal for Leeds but then covered himself in even more glory, and most of Eifion Roberts's not inconsiderable stomach, when he pulled off an incredible feat to fell Roberts when he looked certain to score. Roberts weighs 21 stone but looked certain to cap off an amazing run with a try in the corner.
"It was an incredible tackle. To see your No 10 take a guy out like that was outstanding,"Leeds director of rugby Andy Key said. "Certainly for us it was the tackle of the season and probably the tackle of Ceiron's career."
Thomas deserved a medal for even daring to throw himself at the rampaging Roberts but when Kristian Ormsby cruised over the Leeds line two minutes later for the first try it all seemed in vain. But Leeds showed against Leicester last week that they have the stomach for a streetfight and that is what they indulged in here
Both sides suffered Valentine's Day losses to sides at the other end of the Guinness Premiership in the guise of Wasps' victory over Sale and Leicester's victory over Carnegie but neither outfit were outclassed in those games yet Leeds had clearly taken more heart from their match, encapsulated by Scott Mathie who snuck down the blindside for to score.
The game expanded after the break although both try-lines remained relatively undisturbed as Thomas kicked a further two penalties while Hodgson contributed with one of his own.
Leeds have started to look impenetrable in defence when their blood is up, as was the case here, and one steal by Mathie from a Sale ruck just five metres from his own line summed up their desire to keep the home side at bay. That was nothing though compared to the defensive effort with just minutes to go as Sale pecked away at Leeds' defence and indeed crossed the tryline on one occasion only to be somehow held up as they held on.
"This has hit me hard. With all due respect to Leeds, it doesn't get much worse than losing at home to bottom of the league without a point," Kingsley Jones, the Sale director of rugby said.
Sale Try Ormsby; Drop Hodgson; Con Hodgson. Leeds Try Mathie; Drop Thomas; Pen Thomas; Cons Thomas 3.
Sale: Vakacegu; James (Ripol 55), Bishop, Thomas, Cohen, Hodgson, Peel; Kerr (Schwalger 62), Briggs (Halsall 62), Roberts, Jones, Schofield, Ormsby, Fearns, Koyamaibole (Seymour 48)
Leeds: Hinton; Fa'afili, Rabeni, Barrow, Blackett; Thomas, Gomarsall (Mathie 20); MacDonald (Hardy 73), Titterell (Ma'asi 60), Gomez (Swainston 60), Lund, Wentzel (capt), Clark (Myall 55), Fourie, Oakley (To'oala 55)
Referee: Mr D Pearson.Reuse content