Hodgson the hero for Sale

Sale director of rugby Philippe Saint-Andre had nothing but praise for British & Irish Lion Charlie Hodgson after the inspirational fly-half battled through the pain barrier to guide his side through to the Guinness Premiership final at Twickenham. [more]

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Sale director of rugby Philippe Saint-Andre had nothing but praise for British & Irish Lion Charlie Hodgson after the inspirational fly-half battled through the pain barrier to guide his side through to the Guinness Premiership final at Twickenham.

The England pivot suffered bruised ribs following a hefty tackle by Simon Shaw midway through the first half of the Sharks’ 22-12 victory over Wasps, but trudged on to score 17 match-winning points against the reigning champions at Edgeley Park.

Saint-Andre said: "After that (his injury), he could not tackle so we put him on the wing.

"We had a fly-half in Valentin Courrent on the bench but he has had a shoulder injury all week.

"But Charlie did not want to come off the pitch anyway. He wanted to stay on and that demonstrated the attitude of the team at the moment.

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"He has a big bruise on his ribs but I think he will be fit for the (May 27) final."

Hodgson was not Sale’s only hero.

In Lions winger Jason Robinson, they had the game’s most incisive runner and it was his sensational 50-yard try which proved to be the match’s defining moment.

Lions flanker and lynchpin Jason White – the Premiership’s player of the season – also had a huge game as the Sharks weathered a difficult opening hour before controlling the final 20 minutes in the forwards as if they were play-off veterans.

"Robinson was born to be a champion," the Frenchman added. "He has something you can’t buy, you can’t teach. He has a gift.

"And you can understand why Jason White was voted player of the year. When Whitey hits somebody, they are injured for a few days. Some of his tackles were unbelievable."

Saint-Andre, who has never won a game at Twickenham as either player or coach, added: "We must savour this moment and take this mentality into the game in two weeks. We are not champions yet."

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