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Hodgson steers Sharks to vital win

05th October 2007 21:46

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Charlie Hodgson Sale

Hodgson: Another measured performance

Wasps were condemned to their third defeat of the season as Sale battled to a 16-0 victory over the European champions at Edgeley Park on Friday.

England international Charlie Hodgson contributed eleven points with the boot, which included two drop-goals for a much-needed victory for the Sharks.

The fly-half, playing only his fourth competitive game for Sale since injuring his right knee playing for England against South Africa last November, displayed courage as well as no little skill.

He was caught late by a heavy challenge from Wasps forward Dan Leo in the opening exchanges but he gingerly rose to his feet after treatment to orchestrate affairs.

Two first-half drop-goals a penalty from the number ten gave Sale a 9-0 interval advantage, which they did not surrender.

Lionel Faure squeezed over for the game's only try in the 53rd minute and with Hodgson adding an excellent touchline conversion, the visitors were dead and buried.

A Wasps side that lifted the Heineken Cup for the second time in four seasons in May has now failed to win any of their opening four games.

Even allowing for the absence of a host of key men due to World Cup commitments, Wasps director of rugby Ian McGeechan must be concerned about his side's alarming malaise.

It is worth noting that Sale were even more depleted than their opponents but Hodgson, overlooked for World Cup duty by England coach Brian Ashton, again provided a steadying influence in the middle of the park.

His astute kicking gave Sale a platform on which to build but when Leo caught him late in the fifth minute there were fears his night was over.

Though clearly dazed by the force of the challenge, Hodgson was soon back in the thick of things and in the twelfth minute he found the space to craft a neatly-taken drop-goal to edge Sale ahead.

The Sharks were boosted by the inclusion on the wing of Elvis Seveali'i, who returned to the club on Monday after a miserable World Cup campaign with Samoa.

But it was Hodgson who proved the key figure and midway through the opening period some more delightful footwork gave him his second drop-goal.

Wasps, after an abject start, improved as the half wore on and their pack drove them forward at every opportunity.

In truth, though, they created precious little and after Dave Walder missed a penalty, Hodgson did not falter with a three-pointer to put Sale 9-0 ahead at the break.

Hodgson missed a penalty ten minutes into the second-half and Sale had a lucky escape soon after as Danny Cipriani clearly caught Ben Foden late to prevent his opposite number bursting clear.

Somehow Cipriani's challenge went unpunished but Faure's scrambled touchdown in the right corner moments later provided belated justice.

The try was delightfully converted by Hodgson before Sale went on to waste several opportunities to add to their tally as Wasps' tale of early-season woe continued apace.

The scorers:

For Sale:

Try: Faure

Con: Hodgson

Pen: Hodgson

Drop goals: Hodgson 2

The teams:

Sale: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Elvis Seveali'I, 13 Rudi Keil, 12 Lee Thomas, 11 Oriol Ripol, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Nathan Bonner Evans, 7 Magnus Lund, 6 Chris Jones, 5 Sean Cox, 4 Dean Schofield (c), 3 Stuart Turner, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Lionel Faure.

Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Ben Evans, 18 Chris Day, 19 David Tait, 20 Sililo Martens, 21 Chris Bell, 22 Chris Mayor.

Wasps: 15 Danny Cipriani, 14 David Doherty, 13 Fraser Waters, 12 Riki Flutey, 11 Tom Voyce, 10 Dave Walder, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 John Hart (c), 7 James Haskell, 6 Dan Leo, 5 George Skivington, 4 Richard Birkett, 3 Pat Barnard, 2 Joe Ward, 1 Tim Payne.

Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Michael Holford, 18 Matt Corker, 19 Hugo Ellis, 20 Simon Amor, 21 Rob Hoadley, 22 Mark Van Gisbergen.

Referee: Rob Debney

Touch judges: Martin Buck, Don Helme

Assessor: Brian Campsall

Television match official: Andrew Turner

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