Wasps' hopes swatted by Hodgson's late kick

Wasps 12 Sale 13
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The Independent Online

He has won matches with his boot on so many occasions, but Charlie Hodgson will not have a simpler winning kick than the one he had to do in front of the posts yesterday. As a consequence of his successful conversion of winger Mark Cueto's try in the first minute of added time Sale stormed into fourth place in the Guinness Premiership on the back of their third away victory in the league.

It was the only try of a poor match, which Wasps had led before Cueto popped into space and took a scoring pass from Hodgson to round off some concerted pressure by the Sale forwards close to the Wasps' line.

The match was scarred with errors and penalties throughout. It was also marred by appalling conditions, icy rain sluiced down for much of the match rendering handling a lottery. It was treacherous underfoot, so even kicking out of hand was risky. But Dave Walder, for Wasps and Hodgson still put in some telling punts.

"Charlie kicked well," said Philippe Saint-André, the Sale director of rugby afterwards. "I am sure it was not pretty to watch, but these were two sides, with a lot of second string players, who were desperate for the win."

Defeat, while presenting Wasps with a consolation point that doubles the gap to two between themselves and Bristol, still leaves the reigning champions with one win in their opening seven Premiership matches.

Saint-André's counterpart, Ian McGeechan, had a bleak look on his face when he considered how Wasps had lost out: "We had Sale on the rack. I am just disappointed that we haven't got a win to back up the performance."

The international calls did not help either side, although for Wasps their stand-in full-back Lachlan Mitchell had a good game, in particular in the first half and he looked really solid under the high ball.

But for all that McGeechan still reckoned that Wasps' initial target is a top six finish. But they need to add to their solitary Premiership victory, which was way back in September – the same weekend that Sale last recorded a win in the competition.

Wasps: Penalties Walder 4. Sale: Try Cueto; Conversion Hodgson; Penalties Hodgson 2.

Wasps: L Mitchell; C Bishay, J Lewsey, M van Gisbergen, T Voyce; D Walder, M Robinson; T French, R Ibanez (capt; R Webber, h-t), P Barnard (M Holford, 52; D Varley, 79), G Skivington, R Birkett, D Leo (J Hart, 63), S Betsen, J Worsley.

Sale: N Macleod (M Tait, 48); M Cueto, L McAlister, C Bell (A Tuilagi, 67), D Doherty; C Hodgson, R Wigglesworth; E Roberts, M Jones, S Turner (R O'Donnell, 80+1), D Schofield (capt), J White, D Tait (L Abraham, 56), N Briggs, C Fearns.

Referee: R Maybank (Orpington).

*The 18-year-old winger Tom Homer marked his Guinness Premiership debut with two tries for London Irish, who moved to second place in the table with a 27-14 win over Saracens.

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