Hodgson keeps Sale on song for Europe

Charlie Hodgson chalked up 21 points as Sale sealed a 31-20 victory at Leeds and qualified for the Zurich wildcard semi-finals next Saturday.

The England fly-half, who is expected to be named in Clive Woodward's squad for next month's tour Down Under, helped himself to a full house of three penalties, two conversions, a try and a drop goal. Sale's other points came from tries by Chris Rhys Jones and Mark Cueto. Leeds, who finished second from bottom in the Premiership, also crossed three times - through Dan Hyde, Matt Cardey and Tom Palmer - with Gordon Ross and fellow Scot Duncan Hodge landing a penalty and a conversion respectively.

Saracens climbed above Leeds in the table and denied London Irish an appearance in the wildcard semi-finals, which offer the overall winners a place in next season's Heineken Cup, with a 20-14 win at the Madejski Stadium.

Simon Raiwalui, Saracens' Fijian captain and lock, twice barged across the Exiles' line and Robbie Kydd also went over while Nicky Little supplied a penalty and a conversion. Justin Bishop ran in the home side's only try and their other points came via penalties - two by Mark Mapletoft and one by Barry Everitt.

Newcastle, who have qualified for the 2004-05 Heineken Cup by dint of their Powergen Cup triumph last month, defeated relegated Rotherham 26-20 at the Don Valley Stadium. The Titans, who picked up only their third bonus point en route to becoming the first side to lose all 22 matches in a Premiership campaign, had hoped the switch to Sheffield from their Millmoor base would bring about a change of luck.

Falcons' fly-half Dave Walder kicked 16 points, including conversions to tries by Michael Stephenson and Jon Dunbar. Rotherham, who led through a Mike Umaga try, owed the rest of their points to fly-half Phil Jones.

Waikato Chiefs booked a Super 12 semi-final berth against Canterbury Crusaders in Christchurch despite losing 15-12 to ACT Brumbies in Hamilton. The Brumbies' win meant they headed the round-robin phase of the tournament to earn a home semi-final appointment with Western Stormers, who fought back from a 12-0 deficit to eclipse Natal Sharks 31-24 in Durban.

Auckland Blues, the holders, narrowly failed to reach the last four despite thrashing Otago Highlanders 50-22, with All Blacks Kees Meeuws and Doug Howlett claiming try doubles. NSW Waratahs also missed out on the semi-finals when they went down 23-7 to Queensland Reds in Brisbane.

Meanwhile, the Bulls had the better of an amazing 62-52 scoreline against the Cats in Pretoria. The Bulls' scrum-half Fourie du Preez and the Cats' lock Gerrie Britz each recorded a hat-trick of tries.

Wildcard semi-finals, both Saturday 15 May: Gloucester v Sale (5.05pm); Leicester v Harlequins (7.15pm). Final at Twickenham on 29 May (3.30pm).

Premiership play-off, Sunday 16 May: Wasps v Northampton (3.00pm). Winners meet Bath in final at Twickenham on 29 May (6.00pm).

Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss