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 Friday, 13 December, 2002, 21:12 GMT
Sharks beached at Stradey
Hodges came on as a half-time replacement
Dave Hodges crosses for the crucial try
Llanelli 17-12 Sale

A 75th-minute try from replacement Dave Hodges saw lacklustre Llanelli to victory over Sale, putting the Scarlets' Heineken Cup destiny firmly in their own hands.

It was a strangely lifeless performance from the Scarlets at a subdued Stradey Park as they were outscored two tries to one by the fired-up Sharks.

Llanelli seemed to think that the hard work had been done with last week's win at Heywood Road.

But it was a fiery performance from the English side who were eager to make up for that 19-30 home reverse.

Match details:
Llanelli 17
Try: D Hodges
Pens: S Jones (4)
Sale 12
Tries: A Perelini, G Bond
Con: N Walshe

Bourgoin's defeat in Glasgow means that Llanelli are now in a position to take control of Pool Three.

The home side were first on the scoreboard with a Stephen Jones penalty, but in the 20th minute their defence went to sleep.

A Sharks attack appeared to break down in midfield, but as Llanelli waited for the referee to signal a knock on the ball was shipped to Apollo Perelini.

The former St Helens rugby league star strolled under the posts without a finger laid on him, and Nick Walshe added the extras.

Hodges was the catalyst, he gave us the impetus

Llanelli coach Gareth Jenkins
Back came Llanelli to take the lead with two Jones penalties, but the visitors' defence was resolute and denied them quick ball.

The Scarlets were guilty of too many handling errors and, in the absence of Salesi Finau, lacked a bruising ball-carrier in the back line.

The home scrum was coming under unexpected pressure and when their put-in was turned over on the 22 a series of concerted Sharks attacks ended with centre Graeme Bond going over in the corner.

That gave Sale a 12-9 half-time lead, and the home side's discomfort was increased when their talisman, Scott Quinnell, went off with a rib injury. USA international Hodges replaced him at the break.

The pattern continued in a bad-tempered second-half. Llanelli repeatedly tried the battering ram approach, but the admirable Sharks defence was handling their thoughtless thrusts with some ease.

Llanelli captain Leigh Davies
Davies was well handled by the Sale midfield
It took until the 75th minute, but from another head-on attack the Llanelli backs at last showed some adventure.

Matthew Watkins took the ball in midfield, looked up and put in a perfectly weighted kick to the corner.

On hand was seagulling number eight Dave Hodges to cross for the all-important try.

Desperate Sale attacks saw them kill the ball near their own line, allowing Jones to make it slightly more comfortable for the Scarlets with a late penalty.

It was a bit of a difficult task coming down here, but I was delighted with the performance

Jim Mallinder
Jenkins' joy

Llanelli coach Gareth Jenkins was full of praise for the Sale efforts: "Their defence was awesome, their composure admirable," he said.

"We didn't have the answers for 90% of the game, but credit to my team for changing their tactics towards the end.

"Hodges was the catalyst, he gave us the impetus.

"The result in Glasgow is a big Christmas present for us."

Sale coach Jim Mallinder said: "It was a bit of a difficult task coming down here, but I was delighted with the performance."

Llanelli: Garan Evans; Wayne Proctor, Matthew J Watkins, Leigh Davies (capt), Mark Jones; Stephen Jones, Dwayne Peel; Iestyn Thomas, Robin McBryde, Martyn Madden, Vernon Cooper, Chris Wyatt, Simon Easterby, Dafydd Jones, Scott Quinnell.
Reps: John Davies, Marcus Thomas, Luke Gross, David Hodges, Guy Easterby, Gareth Bowen, Barry Davies.

Sale: Jason Robinson (capt); Mark Cueto, Dan Harris, Graeme Bond, Steve Hanley; Vaughan Going, Nick Walshe; Jim Thorp, Johnny Roddam, Barry Stewart, Iain Fullarton, Chris Jones, Apollo Perelini, Richard Wilks, Alex Sanderson.
Reps: Stuart Turner, Kevin Yates, Stuart Pinkerton, Pete Anglesea, Stuart Brown, Mel Deane, Richard Wigglesworth.

Ref: Alain Rolland (Ireland).

Att: 7,182

 BBC Five Live's Robert Jones
"It was a result Llanelli really needed"
 Gareth Jenkins
"I'm proud of the resolve"
 Dave Hodges
"I got a beautiful bounce"

Heineken Cup

Parker Pen Cup

See also:

07 Dec 02 | European
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