Hodgson helps Sale to vital win
Charlie Hodgson took his points tally at Edgeley Park past the 1,000 mark as Sale eased their Aviva Premiership relegation fears with a deserved 36-31 victory over third-placed Gloucester.
The 30-year-old fly-half, who will join Saracens at the end of the season after 11 years at Sale, went into the match having amassed 999 points at the club's Stockport home. He reached his new milestone with a 21-point haul which included a superb try as Steve Diamond's men condemned the Cherry and Whites to only their third defeat of 2011.
Gloucester claimed the first try through Tim Molenaar but Paul Williams touched down for Sale on the stroke of half-time and second-half scores from replacement Will Addison, Williams and Hodgson sealed a fine victory.
An early penalty from Freddie Burns put the visitors ahead but a penalty from Hodgson soon got Sale off the mark and earned him rich applause for passing the 1,000 point mark.
Yet Gloucester were dominant in the set-piece and crafted a well-worked try in the 19th minute when Burns seized possession at the back of a scrum and his neat short offload ushered Molenaar over the line from close range.
The conversion was added by Burns but Hodgson's intelligent kicking out of hand gave Sale some useful field position on which to build. He kicked a penalty midway through the first half and added another on the half hour to cut Gloucester's lead to a point before Burns landed his second penalty from distance.
The response from Sale was impressive as they immediately tore upfield and centre Andy Tuilagi embarked on a powerful run down the right channel and showed intelligence to send Williams scampering over in the right corner. Hodgson added the extras with the final act of the first half to put his side 16-13 ahead.
Burns booted another penalty to level the scores shortly after the restart but Hodgson soon restored Sale's lead with his fourth penalty. In the 53rd minute, Gloucester wing Jonny May failed to collect a bouncing ball and Addison gleefully collected possession and raced clear for Sale's second try.
Three minutes later it got better for Sale as Hodgson's pass fed the onrushing Williams and he sold a dummy to a bemused Gloucester defence and cantered over the line. This time Hodgson added the extras and although Gloucester hit back with a penalty from Tim Taylor, there was no stopping Sale and Hodgson.
In the 64th minute, he took a quick penalty tap inside the Gloucester 22-metre line and raced over for a try he could not convert from a difficult angle. Four minutes later May took a long pass to cross in the right corner and Gloucester were awarded a penalty try in the dying embers of the game which Taylor converted to secure a losing bonus point.