Double for Jones breaks Rotherham's resistance

Sale 35 Rotherham 7

Tony Wallace
Sunday 28 December 2003 01:00

Sale can hardly complain: they have moved up the table, and collected a bonus point in scoring four tries against a game but limited Rotherham. The Sharks were given a bumpy ride in the first half and the avalanche of points against the Premiership's bottom-placed side never came. It was 20-7 at the interval, Sale recovering from a surprise try by the Titans' outside-half, Phil Jones, to score two themselves.

Charlie Hodgson banged over a couple of penalties when Sale revealed something of their best form. Jason Robinson scooted in for the first touchdown, having left a trail of defenders in his wake, and the second went to Steve Hanley after Bryan Redpath, on at scrum-half for Nick Walshe who took an early knock, set him free with a huge cut-out pass. With Hodgson converting both scores Sale were comfortable, if not exactly coasting, at the break.

Sale began the match with a flourish, Mark Cueto running back Jones's loose kick. As Rotherham had strayed offside at the ruck, Hodgson kicked the penalty. Within a minute Jones had atoned for his error with a slashing break. Although the outside-half was held on the line, a posse of Rotherham forwards arrived to drive him over for the opening try, which Jones converted to give Rotherham the lead after only three minutes. A second Hodgson penalty cut the deficit to one point, but Rotherham were already building quite a head of steam.

So, too, were Sale and a mesmerising run by Robinson was only just halted. But Rotherham's tight-head prop, Colin Noon, was yellow-carded for persistent off-side and when Robinson next got his hands on the ball he squeezed in at the corner. Having started so promisingly, Rotherham were beginning to fall off tackles and leave gaps for Sale to exploit. Next up was Hanley. Former Scotland captain Redpath made a superb break before firing a long pass to Hanley. The big wing's strength and pace did the rest. Hodgson converted both scores, enabling Sale to turn round 20-7 to the good.

Rotherham neededa convincing start after the break. Instead they fell victim to a Sale forward drive, followed by a long pass from Hodgson which put Chris Jones in for try number three. Rotherham didn't capitulate, but there were few chances to add to their first-half score. Having acquired a taste for scoring tries, Chris Jones finished the Titans off with his second try, earning Sale a bonus point.

Sale 35 Rotherham 7

Half-time: 20-7 Attendance: 8,797

Sale: V Going; M Cueto, C Mayor, J Robinson, S Hanley (J Hoyle, 71); C Hodgson, N Walshe (B Redpath, 31); A Sheridan, A Titterrell (M Cairns, 44), S Turner (B Stewart, 44), C Jones, D Schofield, J White, S Pinkerton (M Lund, 60), A Sanderson.

Rotherham: B Stortoni; G Pieters, P Jorgensen, J Pritchard, M Wood (J Keyter, h-t); P Jones (J Benson, 66), J Rauluni (G Easterby, 50); N Lloyd, A Long, C Noon (R Olckers, 61), L Gross, C van Zyl (R Volschenk, 61), D Tuiavi'i (G Lewis, 75), R van der Merwe, B MacLeod-Henderson.

Referee: S Leyshon (Bristol).

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