Sale 25 Bath 10: Hodgson puts the boot into weakened Bath

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The Independent Online

Sale comfortably beat Bath in this Pool B EDF Energy Cup match at Edgeley Park last night. With five penalties from Charlie Hodgson they dominated possession and territory, creating all sorts of problems for the Bath defence.

Sale preserved their unbeaten home record. For Bath, this was only their second defeat of the season.

With the World Cup just a memory, both teams had players in their sides who had been on duty for their country, though Bath were without 10 regulars.

Hodgson dropped a goal and kicked two penalties before the West Country side had broken sweat, and Sale would have added a try but for a pass to Steve Hanley which was adjudged forward. Although their pack were under pressure, Bath got themselves into a position to score a Shaun Berne penalty, though Berne's drop at goal sailed wide, as did Tom Cheeseman's.

By the end of the half Bath were back in it, but Hodgson slotted a third penalty to make it 12-3. Then came a try. Hanley delivered the perfect pass for Chris Bell to score for Sale. Hodgson converted from the touchline to make it 19-3.

After the break came another Hodgson penalty. Then, against the run of play, Bath took a line-out from a penalty and drove across in the corner, Lorne Ward scoring and Berne adding the conversion. But another Hodgson penalty made it 25-10 to Sale.

* Before Llanelli Scarlets beat Leeds 59-19 at Stradey Park last night there was a minute's applause in memory of Ray Gravell, the Scarlets president, who died suddenly on Wednesday.

Sale: Try Bell; Conversion Hodgson; Penalties Hodgson 5; Drop goal Hodgson. Bath: Try Ward; Conversion Berne; Penalty Berne.

Sale: B Foden; J Laharrague, C Mayor, C Bell (R Keil, 67), S Hanley; C Hodgson (S Martens, 70), R Wigglesworth; A Sheridan (S Bruno, 60), S Lawson, S Turner (B Bourrust, 60), I Fernandez-Lobbe (capt; S Cox, 68), C Day, J M Fernandez-Lobbe, M Hills (W Cliff, 80), S Chabal (D Tait, 22).

Bath: M Stephenson; M Banahan (J Cuthburt, 70), A Crockett, T Cheeseman, I Davey (N Abendanon, 27); S Berne, N Walshe (M Baxter, 64); D Flatman (L Ovens, 76), R Hawkins (L Mears, 60), L Ward, S Borthwick (capt), M Purdy (A Beattie, 62), J Faamatuainu, J Scaysbrook, Z Feau'nati (C Goodman, 69).

Referee: P Allen (Scotland).

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