Sale Sharks push Leeds Carnegie closer to relegation
Charlie Hodgson's five penalties helps Sale move closer to Aviva Premiership safety with 15-12 win
Sale Sharks all but secured Aviva Premiership safety with a scrappy 15-12 win over bottom side Leeds Carnegie at Edgeley Park on Friday.
Fly-half Charlie Hodgson kicked five penalties to seal a vital victory as Henry Fa’afili and Michael Stephenson’s tries were not enough to earn Leeds more points.
The visitors left with one losing bonus point as Neil Back’s side battled hard to try win the game. Hodgson put the home side 3-0 up with his first penalty after three minutes.
Fa’afili then got Leeds back in the game with a very well worked try to score in the right corner. Adrian Jarvis converted to put his side 7-3 up and could have put them further ahead and a earned a victory but two penalties bounced off the post.
Hodgson’s second penalty put Sale within one point, and a third just after the break gave them a 9-7 lead.
Sale’s instumental fly-half, who will join Saracens at the end of the season, then added his fourth try in the 46th minute.
Winger Mark Cueto was later binned for denying Leeds’ full-back Stephenson a try-scoring opportunity, which meant Sale saw out the game.
Sale executive director of sport Steve Diamond said: “In terms of the game, our first half wasn’t brilliant we were off the pace and Leeds came like the fighting force they are.
“It was an error-strewn game and that’s what happens when two sides are fighting at the bottom of the league and fortunately we got the four points which will give us a bit of breathing space.
“It wasn’t a great spectacle but thankfully we got the result.
“At this level Charlie is top drawer and he’ll be sadly missed when he leaves,” Diamond admitted. “People like Charlie will be difficult to replace.”
The Sharks are now 12 points clear of Leeds with five games remaining. They will face Northampton on 2 April at Franklins Gardens while Leeds will be desperate for a win against Premiership new-boys Exeter a day later.