Sale had only to stay on their feet, use their hands and scrummage well to win a game tarnished by mistakes. Mostly these were from Bristol, who managed to play without cohesion or common sense.
Philippe Saint-André, the Sale director of rugby, said: "We were honest, committed and played really well. You cannot ask for more than that, though Charlie Hodgson was exceptional."
Richard Hill, Bristol's head coach, was suitably deferential: "Sale had a tactic. Charlie Hodgson was tremendous. We didn't get enough sustained possession while our centres hardly handled the ball. Hodgson kicked for the line-out and we didn't win enough ball, and we lost as a consequence."
Nathan Bonner-Evans was first to earn the referee's displeasure, by pulling down a maul, though Bristol could make nothing of the penalty. Two minutes later Bonner-Evans did it again, but David Hill's kick was wide. Lee Thomas then missed for Sale before Hill got the scoreboard moving with a penalty. Hodgson took over from Thomas after that, and tied the scores.
The game's only try came in the second quarter. The ball was moved from left to right and it appeared as if nothing was on when Rudi Keil was halted, but Hodgson took it on for Ben Foden to score. Hodgson missed with the conversion and another penalty.
A Hill penalty made it 8-6 but the adventure was provided by Sale. Thomas nearly got in at the corner and Oriol Ripol almost made it to the other side. Thomas was wide with a very kickable penalty, so Sale were left with one kick from five attempts. Not good.
Hodgson managed to drop a neat goal and kick a penalty before Hill was wide yet again. At 14-6 to Sale, Lee Robinson knocked on and then, while kicking for touch, pulled a hamstring. It was definitely not Bristol's day.
Another drop goal and a penalty, both from Hodgson, sealed victory for Sale and brought a miserable game to an end.
Sale: Try Foden; Penalties Hodgson 3; Drop goals Hodgson 2. Bristol: Penalties Hill 2.
Sale: B Foden; O Ripol, R Keil, L Thomas, S Hanley; C Hodgson, S Martens (R Wigglesworth, 60); L Faure (B Evans, 70), N Briggs, B Evans (S Turner, 47), D Schofield (capt), S Cox (C Day, 71), C Jones, M Lund (D Tait, 51), N Bonner-Evans.
Bristol: L Arscott; L Robinson (R Higgitt, 53), N Brew, S Cox, T Arscott; D Hill (J Strange, 60), G Beveridge (H Thomas, 62); D Hilton, S Linklater (P Fincken, 75), D Crompton, R Winters, N Budgett (D Attwood, 60), M Salter (capt), J El Abd, D Ward-Smith (J Phillips, 66).
Referee: A Rowden (Berkshire).Reuse content