The wonder of the half was that there had been only a solitary try. Though the quality of defensive play from both sides was of the highest order, Northampton were guilty of killing the ball too often for the referee, Steve Leyshon’s, liking.Once the yellow cards came out of Leyshon’s left pocket-Stu Pinkerton being the first to go, followed by Robbie Morris and Chris Budgen, anything was possible. With both teams down to 14 men, Sale piled on the pressure, but the only scoring was a Grayson penalty to two more by Hodgson. Then, having replaced Mel Deane, Dan Harris was sin-binned for a high tackle, and Sale really were put under pressure until Ripol almost finished them off.Sale: Penalties Hodgson 6; Drop goals Baxendell, Hodgson. Northampton: Tries Cohen, Ripol; Conversion Grayson; Penalties Grayson 3.Sale: J Robinson; M Cueto, J Baxendell, M Deane (D Harris, 71), S Hanley; C Hodgson, B Redpath (capt); K Yates, A Titterrell (C Marais, 56), B Stewart, C Jones, D Schofield (S Lines, 56), A Sanderson, S Pinkerton, P Anglesea.Northampton: N Beal; O Ripol, M Tucker, P Jorgensen, B Cohen; P Grayson, M Dawson; T Smith, S Thompson (D Richmond, 64-71), R Morris (C Budgen, 70), R Hunter, S Williams, A Blowers (G Seely, 68), B Pountney (capt), M Soden (C Budgen, 52-60).Referee: S Leyshon(Bristol).. Having prevailed in his opening two matches here, Tim Henman is preparing to shoulder the wheel of fortune again tomorrow when he plays Juan Ignacio Chela, of Argentina, in the third round of the United States Open.
Despite his dodgy right rotorcuff, the British No 1 is only one win away from equalling his par for the three Grand Slam courses outside Wimbledon.
While not operating on automatic pilot, Henman says his injury problem has concentrated his mind on simply hitting the ball cleanly instead of over-analysing his game. None the less, he would not be happy to leave Flushing Meadows with another fourth round appearance on his CV. “I don’t think it’s good enough for someone with my ranking and whose game is suited to this surface,” Henman says.After a gentle first round loosener against Tuomas Ketola, of Finland, Henman yesterday defeated Dick Norman, a giant Belgian redhead with a kicking left-handed serve, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5. Although he was on court for only one hour and 54 minutes, Henman knew he had been in a match.”The shoulder was more fatigued,” he said.
“As the match progressed the shoulder stiffened up and got pretty tight. We’ll just have to see how it reacts if I get into a very long match.”Chela is capable of providing one of those. A baseliner brought up on clay, he is hungry for success after being suspended for six months last year after testing positive for nandrolone. Henman has played him twice on clay in Monte Carlo, losing to him two years ago and beating him last April en route to the semi-finals.The match will be a contrast from yesterday duel with Norman, a 31-year-old who took too many risks to be described as stubborn, but he did not let the fourth-seeded Henman have it all his own way. After losing the opening set in 32 minutes, Norman recovered a early break of serve in the second set, but was broken again for 4-5. 136 D Lee 68 68; M A Jimenez (Sp) 68 68; J Bickerton 67 69; M Olander (Swe) 69 67; J Haeggman (Swe) 69 67.