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Sale’s fireworks leave Falcons dazed Sale’s fireworks leave Falcons dazed

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Sale’s fireworks leave Falcons dazed

Fly-half Charlie Hodgson provided the fireworks in front of a record home crowd of 10,641, scoring two tries, setting up another and dictating play with his precision kicking game to preserve Sharks' unbeaten home sequence.

And the result went some way to softening the blow of their narrow 37-33 defeat by the Falcons in last season's Powergen Cup Final.

The Falcons were without a clutch of key players including Colin Charvis, on international duty with Wales, and the injured pair Jonny Wilkinson and Mark Mayerhofler.

It was the Sharks, missing Trevor Woodman and Steve Hanley, who started the brighter of the sides.

The visitors were penalised for hands in the ruck and England international Hodgson slotted over a penalty from the halfway line to make it 3-0.

Hodgson doubled the Sharks' lead minutes later with another long-range penalty after Falcons ill discipline at the breakdown but the visitors hit back and Australian full-back Matt Burke halved the deficit with a penalty of his own.

After a couple of rapier-like thrusts by Burke the Sharks defence was finally broken.

The ball was spun out to centre Epi Taione who held off his challenger before deftly flicking out to Tom May who went over.

Burke converted for a 10-6 scoreline but the try stung Sale into action and despite Hodgson missing a simple penalty they soon regained the lead.

Andy Titterrell broke free and set up Andrew Sheridan who barged over the line for a score which was converted by Hodgson.

But it was Newcastle who were having the best of the exchanges and they forced two tries within three minutes. Michael Stephenson charged over after a wonderful Taione mis pass and May grabbed his second of the night, running in from 50 yards to intercept a pass on the wing.

Burke could only manage one of the conversions and the first half scoring did not end there.

After a series of breaks Hodgson went over in the corner for a try which he then converted.

The Falcons began the second half well and Dave Walder extended the visitors' lead to 25-20 with a drop goal.

Hodgson then hit the post with a penalty as Sale attempted to mount a comeback.

The next home try was not long in coming. Two minutes of concerted pressure led to Hodgson feeding lock Dean Schofield to rampage over.

Hodgson missed the resulting conversion to leave the scores delicately poised at 25-25.

The recovery was complete when substitute Sebastien Bruno glided over in the corner for their fourth try of the night and the all-important bonus point.

Hodgson then sealed the win with a try in injury time.

For Sale Sharks:Tries: Schofield, Sheridan, Hodgson 2, Bruno Cons: Hodgson 4 Pens: Hodgson 2

For Newcastle Falcons:Tries: Stephenson, May 2 Cons: Burke 2 Pen: Burke Drop:  Walder

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