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Page last updated at 20:39 GMT, Friday, 23 April 2010 21:39 UK

Sale 30-32 Newcastle

Sale (10) 30
Tries: Vakacegu, Ormsby Con: Hodgson Pens: Hodgson 5 Drop-goal: Hodgson
Newcastle (19) 32
Tries: Gopperth, Young Cons: Gopperth 2 Pens: Gopperth 6

Gopperth celebrates Newcastle's victory
Gopperth was the inspiration behind Newcastle's crucial victory

Newcastle made sure they will be playing Premiership rugby next season by edging past fellow strugglers Sale.

Jimmy Gopperth was the star of the Falcons display, scoring 27 points while Mickey Young also crossed.

Sale were 22-10 behind just after the break but they battled back to take the lead only for Gopperth's penalty to seal the win with four minutes to go.

The home side did earn a losing bonus point but will be deeper in trouble if Worcester beat Leeds on Sunday.

With just one game left - away to Harlequins - this season, Sale are in 10th place and on 32 points - together with Leeds - and six points clear of basement club Worcester.

However, Leeds and Worcester have played a game less than the Sharks.

Newcastle started the better side, despite skipper Carl Hayman failing a late fitness test, with Gopperth landing two early penalties.


Gopperth scored the first try on 21 minutes, finding a gap in the Newcastle defensive line to score a converted try under the posts which put the visitors 13-0 ahead.

Sale fly-half Charlie Hodgson, back in the side after illness, reduced the deficit with a penalty before full-back Marika Vakacegu crossed in the corner on 33 minutes.

Gopperth kicked two more penalties before the break, adding another one after half-time before Sale began their fightback.

Hodgson landed three penalties and a drop-goal to make the score 22-22 while Newcastle replied against the run of play when Young bundled over in the corner.

Hodgson scored a penalty from the restart to break through 1,700 career points and then the home side took the lead for the first time with a try from number eight Kristian Ormsby.

The conversion was missed by Hodgson, who also missed a late drop-goal, while Gopperth's late penalty proved decisive.

Sale boss Kingsley Jones:
"It was a poor first half from us, everything we didn't want to do we did. We allowed Jimmy Gopperth into areas and gave away penalties in those areas.

"I thought he was absolutely deadly and every opportunity he had, he took, whether it was with the boot, whether it was an opening in our defence. And again we've been punished.

"But the second-half performance was better, but we shouldn't have been in that position and we gave them soft points in the first half."

Newcastle rugby director Steve Bates:
"It has been a big day and obviously there was a lot of pressure on both teams and to come out, and to win it by two is a fantastic result for us.

"I think both teams ought to, really, be in the Premiership; that sort of quality of rugby is what the Premiership is all about.

"I think we've proved all season that we're very competitive, so I think we'll take that, move forward and try to progress again.

"I thought the first half we played well and took our chances well and Jimmy obviously kicked the ball brilliantly tonight, and that was obviously a massive factor.

"If we had let Charlie Hodgson dominate the kicking then we would have been in big trouble but Jimmy responded really well I thought and it was a pretty close encounter.

"I thought they upped the pace well in the second half and came at us, and we looked a bit under pressure but the try we scored in the far right-hand corner - I've not really seen it - was fortuitous and got us back in the lead, so it was a fantastic team performance."

Sale: Vakacegu; Cueto, M Tait, Thomas, Cohen; Hodgson, Wigglesworth; E Roberts, Briggs, Forster, C Jones, Schofield, Koyamailbole, Seymour, Ormsby.
Replacements: James for Vakacegu (40), Fearns for Koyamailbole (76).
Not Used: M Jones, Imiolek, O'Donnell, Cox, Leck, Kennedy.

Newcastle: A Tait; Amesbury, Bobo, Tu'ipulotu, Biggs; Gopperth, Young; Shiels, Vickers, Brooks, Hudson, Swinson, Levi, B Wilson, Afu.
Replacements: Catterick for Tu'ipulotu (72), Ovens for Shiels (76), Ward for Brooks (61), Williamson for Levi (44).
Not Used: Thompson, Welch, Pilgrim, Vickerman.

Att: 9,336

Ref: Andrew Small (RFU).

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see also
Guscott's predictions
23 Apr 10 |  English
Calmness key to success - Bates
22 Apr 10 |  Newcastle
Bath 34-15 Sale
17 Apr 10 |  English
Newcastle 7-31 Leicester
18 Apr 10 |  English
Guinness Premiership table
09 Aug 06 |  Tables

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