Rugby Union: MAC HAS THE MAUGER ROLE; Rugby Union: Yesterday's Guinness Prem games Sale Sharks 20 Leicester 14.
THE Battle of the All Blacks was won by Luke McAlister yesterday as he outshone Aaron Mauger to help Sale edge out Leicester.
McAlister dovetailed well with fly-half Charlie Hodgson and was desperately unlucky to see his late drop-goal attempt sail narrowly wide, but still found the time to convert a penalty.
The rival Kiwi centres arrived in England on lucrative contracts after the All Blacks' World Cup flop but could not quite produce the classic duel.
Hodgson again proved trusty for Sale with four penalties and outplayed opposite number Andy Goode, who cost Leicester dear by missing four of his side's seven attempts.
The only tries came late in the first half from Sale's Rory Lamont and rival wing Johne Murphy.
Both sides had heavyweight packs, but it was Hodgson's boot that made the first contribution, landing two penalties in the opening nine minutes.
Goode replied and Mauger, who made a slow start to life in the Premiership, hinted at his awesome capabilities, his searing pace and clever footwork engineering the space to feed Murphy on the left flank.
But Murphy's handling betrayed him, the chance was gone and Sale then got a foothold, Lamont making the pressure tell by crossing in the left corner.
Leicester cut the gap to six points on the stroke of half-time when Murphy went over. And they were level just after the hour mark through two Goode penalties.
But Hodgson struck again on 65 minutes and though McAlister was just wide with a drop goal attempt, he made up for it with a long-distance penalty.
KIWI FIGHT: Mauger and McAlister get to grips