Sun, Sep 24, 2006 - Page 22 News List

Sale rely on boot of Charlie Hodgson to clinch scrappy win


Sale scraped a 34-26 win over Saracens in the English rugby premier league on Friday, while London Irish claimed a 26-21 away win over Newcastle.

Sale ran in three tries, through Mark Taylor, Mark Cueto and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, while the reliable boot of Charlie Hodgson knocked over 19 points as the hosts racked up their third win.

But there was no hiding Sale's slackness in defense, with Saracens -- who had three men sin-binned -- grabbing tries through Rodd Penney, Ben Johnston and Glen Jackson to keep the scoreline close until the final whistle.

"I am pleased with the win and that Saracens did not get a bonus point," said Sale's French coach Philippe Saint-Andre. "But I think they deserved something."

"We were okay going forward for 50 to 55 minutes but after that we switched off completely. We started to be individual. We looked shaky in defense and we need to be much better, and improve together," he said. "We were 12 points in front, but although we were 15 against 14, we did not close the game out."

The visitors' sin-binnings, which occurred just before and just after the interval, cost them dearly as Sale forged into a 26-9 lead.

Any showdown between Sale captain Jason Robinson and Saracens flanker Andy Farrell, who both enjoyed glittering careers together playing for Wigan and Great Britain rugby league teams, failed to materialize as the latter remained on the Saracens bench.

In Friday's other encounter, seven penalties from London Irish's Barry Everitt sent unimpressive Newcastle crashing to a home defeat at Kingston Park.

The outcome was what the Falcons deserved after they conceded a stack of penalties and transgressed throughout the match.

Meanwhile in France, former three-time European champions Toulouse were held to a tryless 9-9 draw at Montpellier on Friday.

The result saw Toulouse regain second spot in the Top 14 standings, at least temporarily as third-placed Biarritz were due to play mid-table Albi yesterday.

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