Kingsley Jones wants Sale to build on victory

Sale director of rugby Kingsley Jones hailed his side’s 19-8 victory over Wasps as the “perfect tonic” but warned his players their relegation fears are far from over.

The Sharks have steadily fallen from grace since being crowned Guinness Premiership champions in 2006 and faced Wasps on the back of an horrific eight-match losing streak.

Yet while much has changed at Edgeley Park since their title success four years ago, Charlie Hodgson remains the creative fulcrum and his trusty right boot delivered when Sale needed it most. The England fly-half kicked 11 points and half-back partner Richard Wigglesworth scored a try and a late penalty to give Sale a thoroughly deserved victory.

Jones beamed: “It was a good win and a good performance. I thanked the players for their effort and commitment but that should be the minimum requirement.”

“There’s still a lot of work to do but this was the perfect tonic.” he told the Guinness Premiership site.

“This season has been tough but the players have set the standard now. Our set-piece was excellent, our line-out was impeccable and I thought Chris Jones was outstanding. That was a big step for us and, other than one mistake, I thought we looked very solid.”

Fly-half Hodgson was called into the England squad as cover for Jonny Wilkinson earlier in the week before being released back to his club. He landed three first-half penalties to give Jones’ men a 9-0 lead at half-time and an advantage they did not surrender against a largely insipid Wasps outfit who could not match Sale’s energy and collective desire.

Although Wasps hit back through Ben Jacobs’ 53rd-minute try, Sale responded immediately when Wigglesworth capitalised on a dreadful mistake in the visiting rearguard for a try which Hodgson duly converted. Wigglesworth also assumed kicking duties late in the second half after Hodgson was left with bruised calf.

Jones said: “He got a stamp on his calf and was cramping up a little bit, but it’s nothing major I hope. The longer it went on the more painful it became.

“I think if Charlie hadn’t been available tonight you would have been visiting me in Wythenshawe Hospital. But he was back and proved again that he’s a great player for us.”

Victory was all the sweeter for Sale after Wasps had refused to play the original fixture in November and walked away from the ground just minutes before kick-off because they felt a section of the pitch was unsafe.

Sale’s supporters booed Wasps off the field tonight and Jones added: “My family came up from Wales in an eight-hour journey and to have a game called off when we felt it could have been played, I could understand the supporters’ frustrations.”

The result was a damaging blow to Wasps’ play-off prospects and director of rugby Tony Hanks denied his side had failed to match Sale’s desire.

“I don’t think we’re ever out-desired,” said Hanks. “We just weren’t accurate – simple as that – and we just made too many mistakes. I thought we were the ones playing all the rugby but we struggled under the high ball.”

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