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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 January 2006, 14:47 GMT
Sale 30-10 Dragons
Sebastien Chabal powers over for Sale's first try
Sale (18) 30
Tries: Chabal, Cueto (2), Hodgson
Cons: Hodgson (2)
Pens: Hodgson (2)
Dragons (5) 10
Tries: Fussell, Tuipulotu
Att: 8,481
Sale secured their place in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals with a bonus-point win over the Dragons.

Forward power helped them to an early advantage, with a Sebastien Chabal try and fine kicking by Charlie Hodgson.

Richard Fussell hit back for the Dragons, before Lions and England wing Mark Cueto sealed the game with a superb brace either side of half-time.

Sione Tuipulotu got the Dragons' second score, but Hodgson secured the bonus point with a try to cap his 15 points.

The result leaves the Dragons - who already had no chance of making the knockout stages - rooted to the bottom of pool one with just one point from five games.

Sale could be beaten to top spot if Munster claim a bonus-point win over them in Thomond Park next week, but the Guinness Premiership leaders would still be guaranteed a best runners-up spot in the quarter-finals.

The Sharks tore into the Dragons in a brutal opening, an early Hodgson penalty resulting from pressure at the scrum.

We need to be much, much better next week at Munster
Sale director of rugby Philippe Saint-Andre

The under-pressure Welsh side then left the blind-side unguarded after a Sale line-out drive, Chabal powering through the gap for the opening try.

Hodgson added the conversion and a second penalty before the visitors hit-back with a fine multi-phased attack.

Ceri Sweeney delivered the killer miss-pass in midfield to give Fussell half a yard of space, the wing making no mistake in the corner.

Jason Robinson tackles Richard Fussell
Fussell's try sparked brief hopes of a Dragons comeback

The Sharks' dominant scrum then drove the Dragons off their own ball at a five-metre scrum, and Hodgson's quick pass to Cueto allowed the wing to step Aled Thomas for a coolly taken score.

The Dragons held it to 18-5 at the break, but within two minutes of the restart Jason Robinson set out on an attack from deep in his own half.

A well-worked scissors with Hodgson sent the fly-half into clear air, and an excellent pass found Cueto out wide with the pace to sear in for his second score.

The Gwent side showed grit, though, Tuipulotu benefiting from good line-out ball to hand off Hodgson's weak tackle and power over for a try.

Hodgson is playing the best rugby of his career
Dragons coach Paul Turner

Hodgson immediately made amends, having the pace to make an outside break around Tuipulotu for the bonus-point try.

With that secured the game petered out, the Sharks realising they will have to up their game for next week's trip to Ireland.

  • Sale director of rugby Philippe Saint-Andre:
    "If we want to finish top of our group we need to be much, much better next week at Munster.

    "We did the job of scoring four tries. We did enough, nothing more.

    "We played well in the first 15 minutes, but after that we made too many mistakes. We know we can play much better."

  • Dragons coach Paul Turner:
    "It was always going to be a difficult task against one of the best sides in England and we started off poorly.

    "But the longer the game went on the more of it we had, and we went toe-to-toe with them.

    "It was probably a 30-20 scoreline. We played some good football but they are a resilient side and their number 10 [Hodgson] is playing the best rugby of his career."

    Sale: Larrechea, Cueto, Taylor, Seveali'i, Robinson, Hodgson, Wigglesworth, Sheridan, Bruno, Coutts, C. Jones, Schofield, Bonner-Evans, Lund, Chabal.
    Replacements: Ripol for Seveali'i (75), Mayor for Hodgson (73), Foden for Wigglesworth (62), Titterrell for Bruno (62), Stewart for Coutts (59), Day for C. Jones (59). Not Used: White.

    Dragons: A. Thomas, Fussell, Luscombe, Tuipulotu, Breeze, Sweeney, Baber, Maddocks, S. Jones, Robinson, Griffiths, Sidoli, Hall, Ringer, Owen.
    Replacements: Bryant for Luscombe (64), Black for Maddocks (52), R. Thomas for Robinson (52), Gough for Griffiths (52), Oakley for Hall (64). Not Used: Brown, Warlow.

    Referee: Rob Dickson (Scotland)

    Heineken Cup
    18 Dec 05 |  European Club
    BBC Wales Sport coverage
    18 Sep 05 |  Wales
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    Sale 31-29 Bristol
    08 Jan 06 |  English


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