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Hodgson guides Sale back up the table

15 Apr 2005
Hodgson guides Sale back up the table

The England fly-half produced an almost flawless kicking display to send the Sharks back to the top three and still in the hunt for silverware.

Two tries from Steve Hanley followed by efforts from Mark Cueto and John Carter. The four tries were backed up by three penalties and four conversions by the impressive Hodgson as the visitors were outclassed at Edgeley Park.

Philippe Saint-Andre's side had lost their last four league matches but were always in control and never looked likely to let the visitors back in the game after establishing a lead.

Hodgson, who will tour New Zealand with the British & Irish Lions this summer, had been out for three weeks with a groin injury but showed no signs of rustiness when presented with an early chance.

He despatched a simple penalty in front of the posts to give his side a third-minute lead – and the hosts grew in confidence after they nudged themselves in front.

Gloucester, in contrast, lacked cohesion in the opening stages. Scrum-half Andy Gomarsall – who will join Worcester at the end of the season – looked nervous, illustrated by him dropping a simple catch in his own territory.

Brad Davies missed an early chance to restore parity with a penalty from 35 yards – and he was swiftly punished as Sale scored the opening try.

Hodgson's intelligent pass to Jos Baxendell was off-loaded to Hanley who ran in unchallenged from 20 yards.

Hodgson, who has been criticised this season for his kicking, converted and added another two penalties before the interval to give his side an unassailable 16-point half-time lead.

Gloucester started the second period with more resolve but could not find a way through the Sale defence, led by the impressive Andrew Sheridan who justified his somewhat surprise Lions inclusion.

Davies had failed with a couple of meek penalty attempts but got his side off the mark five minutes into the second half with long-range effort that just crept over the bar.

Cueto, however, ensured Gloucester would not get back in the game by diving over in the corner within three minutes. Hodgson converted.

Carter then scored a try after 62 minutes, taking advantage of calamitous defending from Davies who dropped the ball just behind his own try line. Hodgson, bristling with confidence, converted.

Davies reduced arrears by converting a penalty try but Sale were soon on the attack again.

Hanley broke with seven minutes remaining and ran more than half the length of the pitch for the fourth try, which ensured a bonus point for the hosts. Hodgson, for the only time in the match, was off target with the conversion.

Peter Buxton went over for Gloucester in the dying moments to gain respectability.

The scorers:

For Sale Sharks:Tries: Carter, Hanley 2, Cueto Cons: Hodgson 3Pens: Hodgson 3

For Gloucester:Tries: Penalty, Buxton Cons: B Davies 2 Pen: B Davies

For more news, try out Sale Sharks v Gloucester Rugby

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