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Sharks Secure Quarter-Final Berth

Tuesday 20th December 2005

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 20/12/2005 15:31

- 20/12/2005 15:31

The Sharks could confirm their quarter-final berth with a win over the Dragons this weekend.

The 2005 European Challenge Cup holders have been unstoppable so far, and will expect to beat the winless Dragons at their Edgely Park stronghold.

Phillipe Saint Andre has built a side that are serious contenders for the Heineken Cup, but need to stay injury free if they are to have their best chance of lifting European club rugby’s biggest prize.

It has not been a sweet season for the Dragons. Paul Turner’s winless side has struggled to live with the likes of Munster and Castres Olympique, and now are playing for pride.

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Sharks Secure Quarter-Final Berth

Tuesday 20th December 2005

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 20/12/2005 15:31

- 20/12/2005 15:31

Sale secured their place in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals with a bonus-point win over the Dragons.
The home side set their stall out early, their pack dominating the early exchanges, and it wasn’t long before Sebastien Chabal rushed 15 metres to the line and the game’s opening try,  converted by Charlie Hodgson.

This sparked the Dragon’s into life, and hit back with a well worked try that Richard Fussell finished off in the corner, but that hope was soon extinguised when before Lions and England wing Mark Cueto put daylight between the sides with a try 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 still 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.

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.

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 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

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