Jeremy Staunton kicked all the points in an 18-16 victory and, although Tigers were unable to cross the tryline, director of rugby Richard Cockerill praised the battling qualities of a side which has collected a hat-trick of Aviva Premiership wins during the Six Nations period.
“This group of players is working really hard, I cannot fault them for their effort,” Cockerill said.
Sharks centre Chris Bell grabbed the only try in the 50th minute and Hodgson’s conversion gave the hosts a 16-15 lead. Staunton edged Tigers back in front but there were nervous moments when Sale looked to line up another shot at goal. First Hodgson dummied a drop goal and almost set up a try for full-back Rob Miller with a blindside break, only for Scott Hamilton to step in with a vital tackle, and then Hodgson kicked wide in the penultimate minute of the game.
“That’s three from three in this period and we’re going pretty well,” said Cockerill. “We were certainly not lacking in effort.
"The determination to make the tackles and get up and not give away penalties was what won us the game, and forcing Charlie Hodgson to go for his drop goal from 45 metres rather than 25.
“A bit like at Leeds, we had opportunities to build a healthy score and did not. We need to improve that. We had enough chances in the first half and probably should have got more from our advantage.
“They scored the try and maybe the game could have got away from us. But we kept playing, and kept them under pressure. Credit to our players for keeping their composure and for keep playing.”
Tigers return to home ground next Saturday when last season’s Premiership finalists Saracens are the visitors to Welford Road (3.15pm). Tickets are available now. Phone the Tigers ticket hotline or call in at the ticket office (open until 5pm Saturday, 8.30am-5pm weekdays and until 8pm on Wednesdays), or book online by clicking here.