Hodgson leads Sale's avengers

Sale 41 Newcastle 16
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The Independent Online

Revenge maybe a dish best served cold, though Sale were far too hot for Newcastle at Edgeley Park last night, gaining some consolation for their Powergen Cup defeat last Saturday by the same opponents.

Revenge maybe a dish best served cold, though Sale were far too hot for Newcastle at Edgeley Park last night, gaining some consolation for their Powergen Cup defeat last Saturday by the same opponents.

Charlie Hodgson was the Sharks playmaker-in-chief with a superb first-half display, so Sale moved two places up the table to enhance their prospects of a place in the wild-card play- offs. Hodgson began by failing to make the statutory 10 metres from the kick-off, though the outside-half was to make precious few mistakes after that, except with a couple of shots at goal. In every other regard he was immaculate and ran the game with precision and imagination.

Newcastle have very little to play for - their season effectively over with a place in next term's Heineken Cup secured - but they opened as if they meant business, with Tom May dropping a goal, before Hodgson tied the scores with a penalty. Newcastle, with a chance to shoot for goal from a penalty, opted to go for a line-out and drive. Matt Thompson then squandered a good attacking position with a crooked throw.

By now Sale were beginning to show signs of having shed their Twickenham blues and were in full attacking mode for Hodgson to grab a blindside try with a shimmy which deceived half a dozen white jerseys. Having been issued a general warning for killing the ball, Newcastle scrum-half, James Grindal ignored it, and was sent to the sin bin. Sale cashed in immediately, Hodgson throwing a bullet of a cut-out pass for Mark Cueto to bomb through the narrowest of gaps for a sweet try. Three minutes later Hodgson was again the creator, kicking wide to the corner for Cueto's second try, both scored while Grindal was serving his time. Hodgson converted the second score, enabling Sale to turn round 22-6 to the good, Dave Walder having kicked a penalty for the Falcons.

Although Phil Dowson got a try for the Falcons and Walder got a second penalty to take it to 22-16, a third try for Cueto and touchdowns for Steve Hanley and Scott Benton took Sale well clear.

Sale Sharks: Tries Hodgson, Cueto 3, Hanley, Benton; Conversions Hodgson 3, Hercus; Penalty Hodgson. Newcastle: Try Dowson; Conversion Walder; Penalties Walder 2; Drop goal May

Sale: J Robinson; M Cueto, C Mayor, V Going (C Rhys Jones, 58), S Hanley; C Hodgson (M Hercus, 80), R Wigglesworth (S Benton, 80); A Sheridan, A Titterrell (M Cairns, 60), B Stewart (S Turner, 60), C Day, J White (A Titterrell, 72-80), P Anglesea (capt), A Sanderson (H Perrett, h-t), C Jones (D Schofield, 50).

Newcastle: D Lilley (B Gollings, 38); T May, J Noon, M Wilkinson (P Godman, 75), M Stephenson; D Walder, J Grindal; I Peel (J Isaacson, 67), M Thompson (N Makin, 56), M Ward, C Hamilton, S Grimes (A Buist, 77), J Dunbar (G Parling, 60), P Dowson, H Vyvyan (capt).

Referee: R Maybank (Orpington, Kent).

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