Sun, Jan 03, 2010 - Page 18 News List

Sale beat Quins to move clear of drop zone

AFP , LONDON

Sale claimed their third victory over Harlequins in 20 days to pull clear of the Premiership relegation zone with a dramatic 21-16 home win at Edgeley Park on Friday.

The home side, boosted by the return of internationals Mark Cueto, Mathew Tait and Dwayne Peel, led at the break with two Charlie Hodgson penalties and a James Gaskell try.

Quins fly-half Nick Evans kept his side in touch but another Hodgson penalty and Ben Cohen’s try extended the lead.

A Tom Guest try on the hour got Quins back into the tie before winger Ugo Monye went over for what would have been the match-winner in injury time only for the video referee to disallow the score for a foot in touch.

Sale director of rugby Kingsley Jones paid tribute to fly-half Hodgson after his last-ditch tackle helped deny Monye.

“The way Charlie Hodgson made that tackle sums up the way he is playing at the moment. Any flanker would have been proud of that tackle. Its importance is massive,” Jones said. “I’ve over the moon with Charlie. I think he’s playing the rugby of his life.”

Harlequins, who have now lost four successive matches in all competitions, were hit by the late withdrawal of John Andress and Nils Mordt.

Sale were more purposeful in the second half with Dean Schofield, Carl Fearns and Matthew Tait punching holes in the Quins’ defense.

Peel opened up a gap and Tait got left winger Ben Cohen charging over for his fourth try of the season.

At 21-9, the contest appeared over, but the visitors remained a threat.

Evans charged down Hodgson’s attempted clearance and was inches away from getting the touchdown, but he went off injured on 56 minutes after kicking a third penalty.

That might have signaled the end of Harlequins’ resistance, but the game was back in the balance on 61 minutes when replacement forward Guest forced his way over from close range for a try.

Rory Clegg added the ­conversion to cut the gap to just five points.

Quins piled on the pressure in the last five minutes and the Sharks defense worked overtime to keep their line intact, with Hodgson pulling off the all-important tackle on Monye.

Quins remain sixth with 24 points after 12 games with Sale two points behind in seventh with a game in hand.

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