Sale 34 Saracens 30: Hodgson denies Saracens top spot

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The Independent Online

It was a wonderful match here at Edgeley Park last night, with both sides playing rugby of the highest quality. Saracens needed victory, with a bonus point to go top of the Premiership, but they were denied by a ferocious Sale.

Charlie Hodgson banged over the opening penalty, while Rory Lamont marked his debut with a monster hit on Ed Thrower.

Oriol Ripol almost made the corner with an intercept after 20 minutes in a fine move. But it was left to Hodgson with a crossfield move, killed by Saracens who conceded a penalty, for Hodgson to goal. Glen Jackson then struck a penalty for the visitors, before converting a try by Kevin Yates.

However, the feeling persisted that Saracens, well organised with their attack mirroring their defence were going to take some breaking down. Just before half-time, Sakiusa Matadigo finished a move with a well-worked try. Richard Wigglesworth snatched a cute try for Hodgson to convert. At the interval it was 17-13 to Saracens.

A prolonged period of pressure by Sale earned Lamont a try which Hodgson converted. A Jackson penalty squared things, though a try by Lee Thomas converted by Hodgson put Sale back in the driving seat. Jackson, with a dropped goal, then a try, which he converted, was followed by a try from Foden. Converted by Hodgson with eight minutes remaining, this earned Sale a bonus point, together with the lead if they could hold it. They did.

Sale: B Foden; R Lamont, R Keil, L Thomas, O Ripol; C Hodgson, R Wigglesworth; L Faure, N Briggs, B Evans, D Schofield, S Cox, C Jones, M Lund, N Bonner Evans.

Saracens: R Haughton; R Penney, K Sorrell, A Powell, E Thrower; G Jackson, N De Kock; K Yates, M Cairns, C Johnson, I Fullarton, K Chesney, S Matadigo, D Seymour, B Skirving.

Referee: A Small (Luton, Bedfordshire).